This gluten-free butternut squash baked mac and cheese is a great way to add more vegetables into a classic comfort dish! Plus, the butternut squash gives the entire dish a beautiful, natural golden orange color. The mac and cheese is always a favorite at home and at my cooking classes!
Note: This is an updated version of the butternut squash baked mac and cheese that I published in March 2016. I simplified the cooking method and added a video tutorial on how to make the dish.
My body’s in a bit of a funk. Nothing serious. I’m just having one of those “why am I waking up before sunrise?” kind of moments. This probably tells you two things about me: (1) I’m not a morning person; and (2) I’ll never get used to this whole Spring Forward thing.
It’s these moments when I need something to ground me, to make me feel like everything is okay. These are the times that call for a good ‘ol mac and cheese.
When I started transitioning over to a gluten-free diet last summer, I thought that I would miss pasta very much. I had heard about how bad gluten-free pastas could be—how they turn gummy and mushy when you try to cook them. My first ever gluten-free pasta was from Trader Joe’s, and the results were less than stellar. (Sorry, TJ! I love you for many other things, like your dried mangos and coconut oil, but I’ll give the gluten-free pasta a pass.)
Why all this talk about gluten-free pasta brands? Well, I’m sharing this butternut squash baked mac and cheese creation over at Better Homes and Gardens’s Delish Dish blog today! I’ve been a huge fan of BHG for a long time, and I was incredibly honored when they asked me to guest post on Delish Dish.
For my post, I was asked to select a recipe from their immense recipe library and add my own spin to it. This Three-Cheese Baked Mac was just begging to be cooked. You can never say “no” to a good mac and cheese, right?
I made a number of changes to the original recipe, including cutting the amount of cheese in half, using gluten-free pasta, and adding a butternut squash puree to the dish. The butternut squash puree move was inspired by my friend Sabrina and her baked mac with carrot. The idea of adding a bit of sweetness to a mac and cheese dish sounded so intriguing, I had to try it for myself. Friends, butternut squash in mac and cheese tastes PHENOMENAL.
MASTERING MY MISTAKES / COOKING NOTES
- Substitutions: This recipe works well with pumpkin puree!
- Adding Broccoli: I made a version of this with chopped up broccoli florets, and it tasted great. I mixed some of the florets into the mac and cheese and spread some on the top. The florets at the top get nice and crunchy!
KITCHEN TIP #1: HOW TO PEEL & CUT BUTTERNUT SQUASH
KITCHEN TIP #2: HOW TO MAKE BUTTERNUT SQUASH PUREE
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Butternut Squash Baked Mac and Cheese
This butternut squash baked mac and cheese is great with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of chopped broccoli florets on the top, too. Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 33 minutes
- Total Time: 43 minutes
- Yield: 6 Servings
- 1 pound (450g) gluten-free penne pasta (use regular penne if not gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (475ml) low-fat milk (I used 2% milk)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups butternut squash puree (pumpkin puree also works)
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3.8 ounces/110g)
- 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (about 3.8 ounces/110g)
- 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (about 2.3 ounces/65g)
- olive oil for greasing baking dish
- finely chopped parsley for topping (optional)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water.
- Position an oven rack to the center. Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Grease a baking dish with olive oil. Set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir immediately until a soft paste, or roux, forms. Add milk and begin to stir everything immediately to prevent the roux from clumping up too much.
- Once the milk boils, reduce heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for about 3 to 4 more minutes, until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low.
- Add the oregano, thyme, black pepper and salt and stir. Add the butternut squash puree and mix until everything is incorporated. Mix in 3/4 cup of mozzarella, 3/4 cup of white cheddar. Save the rest of the cheese for topping later. Turn off heat. Stir in the cooked pasta, until it’s well coated with the butternut squash cheese sauce.
- Pour mac and cheese into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella, white cheddar and parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for 4 minutes to brown the cheese on top.
- Top finished mac and cheese with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Makes 6 Servings. Amount per serving: Calories: 495, Total Fat 18g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Sodium: 764mg, Cholesterol: 52mg, Total Carbohydrate: 59g, Dietary Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 9g, Protein 24g
*In the original method, I made a butternut squash puree by sauteing 2 cups of cubed butternut squash (11 ounces) in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, a few cloves of crushed garlic, a splash of water and salt. The squash will need 10 minutes to cook, covered. If the water evaporates before the squash is ready, add another splash of water. Then, I blended everything in a food processor until smooth. I thought that this method was more time consuming than adding pre-made butternut squash puree into the cheese base, so I rewrote the recipe.
- Serving Size: 6