THE BLOG
01/07/2014 08:25 EST | Updated 03/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Warm Up With This Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is my favourite comfort food!

Traditionally, mac and cheese is really rich and heavy on butter, cream and, well, cheese, so I wanted to try a lightened up version -- without compromising taste and texture, of course.

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Mac and cheese is an easy dish to get creative with: you spice it up with ingredients such as peas, kale, bacon, crab, cauliflower, and even a cashew cream sauce. I decided to turn to an unlikely ingredient for a boost: butternut squash.

Combined with one per cent milk and the variety of cheeses, the squash adds a rich, nutty flavor, sneaks in a few servings of vegetables, and wonderfully mimics the colour and creaminess of a rich, cheesy sauce. Plus, the trio of bold cheeses packs more flavor than a one-cheese approach.

Is your month watering yet?

butternut squash mac and cheese

Ingredients:

500 g whole wheat elbow macaroni

4-5 cups butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups one per cent milk

1 tbsp canola oil

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1.5 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dry mustard

1/8 tsp (or less) cayenne pepper

1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 375 F.

-Roast the cubed butternut squash for 20-25 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a fork. When roasted and cooled, transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth.

-Add the macaroni to a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender but firm. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

-Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes.

-Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add the milk and pureed squash to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until almost simmering, stirring often.

-Remove pan from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese, onions, salt, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper.

-Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine

- Transfer the macaroni and cheese to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.

-Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

butternut squash mac and cheese

Source: Wealth of Health