I love cheese, I love pasta, and I especially love mac and cheese. All those carbs and melty goodness in one dish … it’s just so darn good!
Unfortunately, it’s also quite fattening and unhealthy. My favorite recipe has cups upon cups of cheese, whole milk, and lots of butter, and that’s not even counting all the pasta. It’s one of those meals that I can only justify making once or twice a year.
Lucky for me, I discovered a way to lighten up my mac and cheese recipe big time: squash. It’s my secret healthy ingredient, and you won’t believe how good it makes this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese!
If you’ve visited Hello Little Home before, you’ve probably noticed that I love butternut squash. But even if you’re not a fan, you need to give this easy mac and cheese a try. It doesn’t taste like it’s full of squash … I swear.
This lightened-up meal starts with an easy bechamel sauce made from butter, flour, and low fat milk. After the sauce thickens, you’ll stir in a mixture of gruyere and cheddar cheeses … two of my favorites!
Next comes the secret ingredient. The butternut squash gets cooked in the pasta water and then mashed into the bechamel. Give the sauce a taste at this point. You won’t believe how decadent it tastes!
Once the sauce is ready, you’ll stir in the pasta and cover everything with garlicky breadcrumbs. After a quick bake, it’s time to dig in!
Wanna know the best thing about this Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese? It doesn’t taste like it’s been lightened-up! Every bite is satisfying, cheesy, and delicious!
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 slices whole wheat bread
- 1/4 cup parsley, leaves only
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
- 4 oz. gruyere, shredded
- 4 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
- 16 oz. pasta (shells, twists, macaroni, or similar)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, place garlic cloves in a food processor. Pulse until minced.
- Add bread, parsley, and 1/4 tsp. salt to processor.
- Pulse until bread is crumbed.
- Drizzle breadcrumbs with olive oil and pulse a few times to combine. Set aside.
- When water comes to a boil, add squash.
- Cook until squash is soft (you should be able to mash it), about 7 minutes.
- While squash is cooking, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
- Stir flour into melted butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until lightly golden.
- Slowly whisk milk into butter mixture until smooth.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook sauce until thickened.
- Remove sauce from heat. Stir in nutmeg and cheeses until smooth. Season with salt.
- When squash is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove it from water and add it directly to the bechamel sauce.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
- Mash squash into sauce until smooth.
- Season sauce to taste with salt and set aside.
- When pasta is cooked, drain and stir into sauce.
- Transfer pasta to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
- Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
- Bake pasta until bubbling and crumbs are browned, about 15 minutes.
- Serve hot. Enjoy!