Upgrade Your Mac And Cheese With Butternut Squash

Adding butternut squash to this classic dish adds a silky richness, taking it from favorite to fancy.

February 7, 2017
butternut squash mac + cheese
Toby Maynard

To make this easy vegetarian butternut squash macaroni and cheese recipe, mashed and roasted butternut squash is mixed with cheddar cheese to add a silky richness that’s as comforting as a warm blanket on a winter evening. The crispy, buttery breadcrumbs and fresh sage topping will please adults as well as kids—and the whole dish comes together in under an hour, making this a great weeknight recipe.

Serves 6

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1 small (about 2 pounds) butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 pound cavatappi or elbow pasta
3 cups milk
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
8 ounces cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 2 cups)
½ ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about ½ cup)
½ cup coarse whole grain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to season

Related: The Ultimate Easy Butternut Squash Soup

1. Heat oven to 400F degrees. Halve butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with oil and place garlic and sage inside the cavity. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until squash is golden brown and tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Set the sage leaves aside. Scrape the tender squash flesh and garlic into a bowl and mash with a potato masher.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions, 1 minute under al dente.

3. In a large cast-iron skillet, whisk together the mashed squash and milk over medium heat. Add the nutmeg and cayenne. Whisk in the cheeses until completely melted. Stir in the pasta until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

4. Chop the sage saved from roasting the squash. In a small bowl combine the chopped sage, breadcrumbs, and butter. Sprinkle over the pasta and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbling, about 15 minutes.

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