Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

It’s amazing how much better life is, with mac and cheese in it.

I can’t help but laugh to think about my younger days when mac and cheese was my all-time favorite thing to eat. I’m talking the phosphorescent Kraft stuff, people.

I was a foodie even back then, but my definition of gourmet was to throw a few flecks of bacon it in to spruce it up.

As I got older and my kids came along, I got all snobby and started adding lobster to my mac & cheese – especially if friends were coming over. I’d even add truffles to impress them,

But then I realized something: lobster mac kinda defeats the whole idea of a cheap comfort food! It’s way too expensive, anyway, and not nearly the same food that I had as a kid. Back to basics for me.

So I decided to stop using lobster. But I was still a food snob – what to do? I realized that I needed a new ingredient.

That’s when I came across butternut squash as a delicious alternative. Especially for the Fall, when most people hunker-down over a bowl of hot cheesy pasta. Mmmm.

Here’s the recipe that I hope you’ll love as much as I do. I like to call this my own special mix on butternut mac and cheese. Not only is it healthier than stuffing bacon or ham into it, the butternut squash adds a crunchy texture and a nutty flavor that really compliments a true, original mac and cheese. Without making it too snobby ;O

Ingredients

butternut squash

butternut squash

  • 1 lb macaroni – I used penne or tubatini
  • 10 ounces butternut squash chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 of a white onion
  • 1/4 cup of white flour
  • 2 tablespoons of thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano
  • Pepper and nutmeg

Directions

After you have all of the ingredients gathered, then comes the fun part; it’s time to start cooking!

  1. First, put the water into a pot and turn it onto high heat to boil.
  2. Once things start to get warm, throw in just a dash of salt. The salt helps make the noodles “al dente,” which means that its soft enough to eat but not too mushy so that it’s unenjoyably.
  3. While we are waiting for the pasta to cook, start heating up a pot over medium heat.
  4. Once it starts to warm up, add the butter and olive oil. Spread the two around so they cover the entire surface area of the pot.
  5. Cut up the thyme and onion and toss into with the butter and olive oil.
  6. Add the chopped butternut squash to the pan and let the combination cook for about 2-5 minutes or until you get a nice caramelized color.
  7. Add the chicken stock and cook until the mixture thickens a bit. 
  8. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in flour to make a roux. Add the milk to the roux slowly, stirring constantly.
  9. Stir in cheeses, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick.

Time to scarf it down.

Enjoy!