butternut squash mac & cheese

Vegetables never cease to amaze me. Did you ever imagine that something so simple can be elevated into, quite possibly, one of the smoothest and creamiest sauces you’ve ever tasted?

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I had no idea, before tasting this dish, that butternut squash could be easily whipped up into the base for creamy mac and cheese. In fact, to say I was surprised is an understatement. But I think that that is what makes cooking so fun! You can find new and unusual uses for items that would traditionally not work. This recipe proves that butternut squash can go above and beyond simply being roasted as a side dish; it becomes the star.

We’re taking a tried and true mac and cheese recipe today and elevating it not only flavor-wise, but packing it full of healthy goodness. The use of pureed squash replaces several cups of cheddar cheese typically found in such a dish. Tangy, rich blue cheese {in a much less amount} will pack in flavor and just the right amount of fat, making it perfectly balanced. Cubed pieces of roasted squash and halved tomatoes are folded into the casserole, letting us reduce the amount of pasta {and carbs} that would normally be used. A hefty dose of spices – sage, chili flake, pepper – satisfies our taste buds. This is a perfectly balanced dish, and comes together in no time. Grab your fork and let’s dive in, shall we?

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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese {recipe adpated, minimally, from Daily Unadventures in Cooking}

An unusually healthy twist on a classic dish, this mac and cheese recipe is sure to please even the most old-fashioned palate. Butternut squash puree makes up the body of the cheese sauce, with creamy blue cheese elevating its flavor to an even higher level. Additionally, folding in more vegetables reduces the amount of pasta needed, making this a dish you can enjoy without all the guilt. 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. dried sage

1/2 tsp. chili flakes

1 tbsp. flour

2-1/4 cups milk {I used 1%}

2 cups butternut squash puree

2 cups roasted butternut squash, diced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

6 ounces blue cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Put a big pot of water on to boil, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In the meantime, start your sauce.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the onions, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Sweat out over low heat until sweet and tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, sage and chili flakes and continue sweating until garlic is softened, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the flour on top of the garlic and onion mixture and stir it in. Cook the mixture over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk 1/4 cup at a time, waiting until it starts simmering before stirring in the next back. Whisk in the squash, then lastly, fold in the blue cheese. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, undercooking slightly. Drain. Fold the pasta together with the sauce, and add in the halved tomatoes and cubed butternut squash. Transfer to a greased casserole dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Serve hot, atop a bed of fresh greens.

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