Once cold weather months are upon us, we begin craving the dishes that keep us warm and stick to our ribs. One fall favorite for my family is good old fashion, macaroni and cheese. It’s filling, super comforting, and a meal my kids always request. Because it’s fall and I love roasting, which fills the kitchen with great smells and warms it up in the process, I love adding butternut squash to my pasta.
Roasted pieces of butternut squash add a wonderful element to the creamy, rich pasta. Then, for some texture, I sauté a little pancetta in some butter and add panko bread crumbs for a quick toast. It’s a decadent, salty and crunchy addition to the smooth pasta. If you want to keep it vegetarian, just omit the pancetta.
The squash blends right in but pops in your mouth because of the roasted, caramelized texture. After I started making my mac and cheese with squash, I never looked back!
Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese
Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 30 minutes Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups butternut squash, cut in a ½ inch dice
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 (12 ounce can) evaporated milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons very fine flour, like Wondra
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
8 ounces American cheese, cut in small pieces
1 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup diced pancetta
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Layer on top. Place butternut squash in a large bowl and sprinkle oil and salt over it. Toss to coat. Place the squash, in an even layer, on the baking sheet and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
3. While the squash is cooking, cook the macaroni in a large pot with boiling, salted water. Cook for nine minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Drain the pasta, place it back in the pot, and toss with 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, add the milk, egg, flour, and cheeses and mix until fully combined.
5. Pour the roasted squash and cheese sauce into the large pot and mix to thoroughly coat the pasta.
6. In a large sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter and add the pancetta. Allow to crisp, about 3 minutes. Then, add panko bread crumbs. Stir to coat.
7. Place the pasta into a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs on top.
8. Place the pasta into the oven for 15 minutes.
9. Serve with some crusty garlic bread!