Every fall and winter, I make this butternut squash mac and cheese at least several times. It is a celebration of my favorite winter squash. Besides, I love adding vegetables to my dinners in any way that I can. The combination of squash, carbs, and melty cheese genuinely comforts my soul.
This baked mac and cheese was inspired by the Three-Cheese Baked Mac from Better Homes & Gardens. I made a number of changes to the original recipe. First, I cut the amount of cheese in half and used gluten-free pasta. Additionally, I added butternut squash puree to mac and cheese. Inspired by my friend Sabrina’s baked mac with carrot, I decided to add butternut squash puree to this mac and cheese. 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.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC AND CHEESE COOKING NOTES
- Choosing the right gluten-free pasta: When I first created this recipe, I was eating gluten free, which is why I used gluten-free pasta. After trying out quite a number of brands, I’ve found that Ancient Harvest, Tru Roots, Bionaturae and Banza work very well for this butternut squash mac and cheese recipe. I have been eating Banza’s pasta more lately because they contain a lot more protein and dietary fiber than other pastas. Because their pastas are made from beans, you will detect a bean flavor in the pasta.
- 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!
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Baked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound (450g) gluten-free penne pasta (use regular penne if not gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose blend (or use regular flour if not gluten free)
- 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 1/2 cups butternut squash puree (pumpkin puree also works)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 1/3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- olive oil for greasing baking dish
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water.
- Position an oven rack to the center. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 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 2/3 cup of mozzarella, 2/3 cup of white cheddar. Save the rest of the cheese for topping later. Turn off the 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 and white cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for about 3 to 4 minutes to brown the cheese on top. Check the mac and cheese after 3 minutes to see if it has been adequately browned.
Note: This is an updated version of the recipe that I published in March 2016. I simplified the cooking method and added new photos and a video tutorial on how to make the dish.