I’m, like, super into healthier versions of fall comfort food. I mean first of all, fall flavors are the best. The BEST.
And secondly, it’s totally possible to eat comforting, stick-to-your-ribs foods without over-indulgence. Case in point: this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese.Â
This recipe takes me back to my childhood, when my sister and I would have playdates with our friends Lil and Devon. Their mom would make us Annie’s mac and cheese mixed in with peas and carrots for dinner, and it. was. the. best.
Today we’re swapping out peas and carrots for an herbaceous butternut squash puree. It’s seasoned with sage and thyme, giving the macaroni an instant fall feel.
But like it’s still cheesy and delicious, too. I used my favorite cooking cheese, gruyere, as well as mozzarella for creaminess.
This mac and cheese could be finished on the stove if you’re feeling lazy, but for presentation I topped it off with more cheese and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Into the oven for 5 minutesÂ et voilÃ . Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese fit for a King. Or Queen.
So my second Food Photography Workshop starts today in Napa, CA, and I’m SO excited. I’ll be spending the weekend with 12 lovely attendees in the most stunning house I think I’ve ever seen. Gah. I can’t wait to show you guys.
Stay tuned, and happy eating!
- 4 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 pound macaroni shells
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 oz mascarpone cheese
- 6 oz Le Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon thyme, minced
- 1 teaspoon sage, minced
- Preheat oven to 400Â°F. Place butternut squash on a large roasting pan. Toss with fresh sage, thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender and begins to turn a darker yellow orange color. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- In a large blender, puree squash with chicken or vegetable stock. If puree is too thick, add in an additional ¼ cup stock. Reserve 2½ cups of squash puree for macaroni. If you have any left over, you can use it for something else!
- Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. You want the macaroni to be slightly undercooked, as it will continue to cook once it is incorporated into everything else. Drain and set aside.
- Set oven to "broil." Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan and set aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, until mixture turns fragrant and light golden brown. Whisk in milk, salt, and black pepper, then cook until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add in reserved butternut squash puree and mascarpone, stirring to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, then add in half of the Le Gruyere and half of the mozzarella. Stir until cheese is melted completely. Add in cooked pasta and stir to combine.
- Pour into prepared baking pan. Combine breadcrumbs with thyme and sage. Top macaroni first with remaining Le Gruyere and mozzarella, then with breadcrumb mixture.
- Broil for 3-5 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese melts completely. Serve immediately!