Combine two classic thanksgiving side dishes into one this year in our Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. In this dish we bring together creamy cheeses like cheddar and whole milk ricotta with fresh roasted butternut squash puree and create this fall inspired Mac and cheese which surely trumps the original.
In the recipe we included optional cauliflower florets to add some bulk to the recipe. Feel free to include, increase or decrease depending on preference. Cauliflower allows you to increase serving size and decrease some of the elbow macaroni used without sacrificing any of the flavor. We chop the florets up small in fold it into that creamy cheesy sauce to create velvety perfection. If cauliflower isn't your thing- simply omit and increase the macaroni amount to 1 lb for 8 servings!
I love roasting the squash myself but if you don't want the hassle you can buy frozen pureed squash and let it defrost prior to blending with the milk. If you're least favorite step of fresh squash is the cutting- buy the pre cubed squash! Especially since this recipe only requires 20oz of squash.
We finish the Mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb mixture and bake it. This leaves you with crispy buttery crust just barely covering that creamy cheesy goodness right underneath. If baked Mac and cheese isn't your thing- I know for some it isn't, skip the breadcrumbs and baking and enjoy once it's all folded together! It's your dinner, so make it your own.
This Mac and Cheese is amazing on it's own and would be a delicious Thanksgiving side! For the other 364 days we recommend pairing with our Instant Pot BBQ Chicken.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
8 servings | Cook time: 50 minutes
Notes: Cauliflower florets are an optional low carb option. Add more or less depending on preference. If you increase, decrease macaroni and if you remove entirely, increase macaroni to 1 lb/16oz. As written, this makes a large serving and can be stretched to feed 10.
20 oz butternut squash, cubed (~1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp olive oil, divided
14oz elbow macaroni (1lb if not including cauliflower)
8 cups frozen cauliflower florets (optional)
2 oz Monterey jack cheese
4 oz cheddar cheese
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 cups skim milk
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Nonstick olive oil spray
8 soup ramekins or 1 9x11 casserole dish
Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss the butternut squash cubes with 1 tsp olive oil, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, tossing halfway, until fork tender.
When there’s about 5 minutes left in the cook time for the squash. Heat medium pot of water over high. Add a steamer basket over the water with the cauliflower or microwave the cauliflower until very tender.
When the cauliflower is tender, remove and chop into small bite sized pieces, similar in size to the macaroni.
Remove the squash from the oven and set aside.
Once the water comes to a boil, season it with salt and stir in the pasta. Cook until it’s about 3/4 cooked through (I take it off about 2 minutes early. Strain and set aside.
In a blender or food processor, combine squash, 1 cup milk, cayenne, mustard and salt. Add squash mixture to a large sauce pan. Use the remaining 1 cup milk to get any remaining squash out of the blender/food processor and add to the sauce pan. Whisk the squash and extra milk together over medium heat until it just begins to simmer.
Remove from heat and fold in Monterey, cheddar and ricotta cheese. Fold the macaroni and chopped cauliflower into the squash sauce.
Spray the ramekins or casserole dish with nonstick spray and add the Mac and cheese mixture to dish or bowls.
In a small bowl, mix together remaining 1 tsp olive oil, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle the mix evenly over the Mac and cheese mixture.
Bake the Mac and cheese at 375F for about 25 minutes or until the breadcrumbs start to brown and the cheese sauce is bubbling. Remove and let set a few minutes before serving.
Pair with our favorite Instant Pot BBQ Chicken.
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Nutrition Facts are provided as a guideline only. Exact nutrition will depend on quantity, brand and ingredients used.