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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Our contributor offers a savory, seasonal variation on a classic Italian comfort dish that is packed with nutrients and flavor.

butternut squash mac and cheese.

Butternut squash mac and cheese. Photo: AI-generated image.

Certain vegetables reflect certain seasons. To me, nothing says fall quite like winter squashes and pumpkins. As the leaves change color and a chill hits the air, I’m inspired to create warm and cozy dishes with squashes as the star of the show. And so, my delicious (and nutritious) Italian-inspired butternut squash mac and cheese recipe was born. Rich, comforting, and full of fall flavor, this mac and cheese is lighter and healthier than its cheese-filled American cousin.

Roasting and pureeing the squash with a handful of ingredients is the secret to creating an indulgent and delicious sauce. Creamy squash replaces excess cheese creating a smooth orange texture. But what about the cheese? We use a small amount of parmesan and finish with some crispy fried sage, Italian classics that pair beautifully with fall flavors.

Hearty and healthy-packed, Butternut Squash are in season from early fall to early winter. Loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant in many colorful vegetables, it turns your body into a mini vitamin A factory and is also high in vitamin C. For the freshest squashes shop your local farmers market, if you can. You’ll find the best tasting and most nutrient packed produce there! Cook in good health.

Mangia!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Recipe by Danielle Kaye
5.0 from 2 votes
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

15

minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Pasta
  • 12 oz 12 pasta

  • 1 medium 1 butternut squash (about 3 cups, roughly chopped)

  • 2 2 shallots, chopped

  • 3 3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 nutmeg

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 cream (or milk)

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 shredded parmesan

  • 1 tablespoon 1 butter

  • 1 tablespoon 1 olive oil

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 reserved pasta water

  • Salt and pepper

  • For the Fried Sage Topping
  • 12-16 12-16 sage leaves

  • 1 tablespoon 1 butter

  • 1 tablespoon 1 olive oil

Directions

  • For the Butternut Squash
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and coat the squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with 1 tsp of salt.
  • Roast cut side down for 45-55 minutes until it's tender and slightly caramelized.
  • When the squash is finished cooking, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool.
  • For the Pasta
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
  • For the Fried Sage
  • Heat a small pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Add in the sage leaves and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side until the sage is crispy and golden (keep a close eye on the sage as it can burn quickly).
  • Once it's done, remove it from the pan and let it drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • For the Sauce
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
  • Add the roasted squash to the pot with the shallots and garlic, along with the cream, 1/2 cup of pasta water (you may need a bit more to thin it out; aim for a creamy consistency, but this will depend on the size of your squash, so reserve at least 3/4 cup of liquid to be safe), nutmeg, 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper.
  • Blend the mixture with an immersion blender.
  • Once the sauce is smooth and creamy, add the Parmesan and immediately add the hot pasta.
  • Stir everything together and serve garnished with the fried sage.
  • Enjoy!

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