Butternut Squash Macaroni + Cheese

A few months ago, my good friend Kristen helped me put together a recipe binder of all my magazine-tear outs. She's so creative and organized like that and now I'm organized too :) While we went through my pages of Food Network Mag and Real Simple recipes, she proclaimed her love for Cooking Light.

Since she was so over the moon about it, I decided that I too had to get on the bandwagon. Luckily, that cute husband of mine gave me a subscription for my birthday. He’s a keeper.


The second issue I received featured a macaroni & cheese that is lightened up by using butternut squash instead of flour for making a thickening agent (a roux). It's so genius because a) it works, b) it's a sneaky way to add some veggies, and c) the results are healthy and delicious.

I love this dish because it’s simple, comforting and relatively guilt-free. I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s as good as a full fat macaroni and cheese (for that, check out my gruyere mac & cheese and my asiago fig mac & cheese). It’s just not. But this recipe is perfect for a lightened up weeknight dinner and makes a large tray to boot. It’s a great way to enjoy a classic without breaking the caloric bank! I made a few changes from the original recipe to suit our needs and what we had on hand, but the result was still fantastico. So thanks to Kristen for giving me magazine envy.

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese
*Adapted from Cooking Light
1 lb. elbow pasta (I used Barilla Plus), cooked according to package directions, boiled 1 less minute
1 medium butternut squash, diced
1 ½ C fat free milk
1 ¼ C low sodium chicken broth
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fat free Greek yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
1 ¼ C extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ C + 1 tbsp parmigiano reggiano, grated, divided
½ C panko bread crumbs (I used the seasoned kind)
kosher salt
black pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth, milk, butternut squash and garlic to a light boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes until the squash is fork tender and your kitchen smells like a bit of braised heaven :) I should note that I took this time to make the pasta and grate my cheese. Please note that I boiled the pasta to al dente because it is still going to cook in the oven - I didn’t want to overcook it!

Once soft, blend the squash mixture and the Greek yogurt together. You can use a blender, but I used my handy immersion blender (carefully) in the saucepan. Seriously, if you don’t have one...get one! It’s one of the best tools I’ve ever purchased and use it all the time. I think mine was $25 at Bed Bath & Beyond with a coupon. It’s perfect for all smoothies, soups and rogue uses like this.

Once completely blended, whisk in the cheddar and ½ C parmigiano reggiano until melted. In a large bowl, mix together the elbows and the cheese mixture. Pour into a large casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray. Smooth the top and sprinkle the panko and remaining parmigiano reggiano over the top. Spritz lightly with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately. We also found that it reheated fabulously in the microwave (so as not to dry it out in the oven on day 2+).ο»Ώ

So there you go. My new favorite recipe that will now be added to the permanent collection! I bet this would be great with lots of different cheeses too! In fact, the original recipe calls for gruyere, but I chose to stick with cheddar since I didn't want to buy a $9 block of cheese unless it was being eaten au naturale.

Questions of the Day:

Have you ever lightened up your favorite comfort food dish? I love doing this! In general, I try to sub less butter, ground turkey and add veggies wherever I can!

What are your plan for this weekend? Shaun and I are heading down to Delaware - let's hope the weather stays nice! Then it's football Sunday! Stay tuned for Game Day Eats ideas next week!

psst...we're rounding up our highs (peaches) and lows (pits) of the week over on The Peach & The Pit...what's your best and worst of the week?