Mac Daddy

It is officially the week before Thanksgiving.

Whether you’re hosting the feast at your house or you’re a guest at someone else’s, chances are, some sort of culinary contribution is required of you.

As you rack your brain for the perfect Thanksgiving side dish, consider this recipe: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese. Receiving front-cover status on Cooking Light’s September issue, this recipe is the perfect marriage of fall classic and comfort food.

Pureed butternut squash and rich, sharp cheeses combine to make a slightly sweet, creamy sauce that engulfs the almighty cavatappi noodle. Carnivores and vegetarians alike will swoon for this lightened up mac and cheese dish, while leaving room for other Thanksgiving favorites.

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

What You Need

  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about one 1-lb squash)

  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt

  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyère cheese

  • 1 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1/4 finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

  • 1 pound uncooked cavatappi

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

What To Do

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.

  2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

  3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13x9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture.

  6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.
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