Hi, we need to talk…
Thanksgiving is in just a few short days (which also means my due date! Ah! Open to receiving any and all positive labor vibes starting now.) and this butternut squash mac ‘n cheese needs to be part of your spread. Seriously, its feelings will be badly bruised if you neglect it. (There’s still time, I promise.) I know the whole “mac ‘n cheese at T-giving?” debate is alive and well, but this one will easily sway your decision to include it every year from here on out.
I kid you not, I’m devouring a bowl of it as I write this post. It’s my favorite mac ‘n cheese I’ve made, probably ever, because it doesn’t involve a trillion steps (canned butternut squash puree anyone?!) and has a healthy twist (more butternut squash…less cheese…sneaky) but still tastes divine.
Real life: I just dropped the last bite on my knee and was legitimately sad about it. (I may or may not have still eaten it. #39weekspregnant #youwouldtoo)
Wishing you a wonderfully happy Thanksgiving, wherever you and all the pies and stuffing and this mac ‘n cheese may find yourself!
- 1 lb elbow, mini penne, cavatappi or casarecce pasta
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 6 sage leaves
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1½ cups milk (2% or whole)
- 1 cup reserved pasta water or chicken broth
- 8 oz (~2 cups) grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 oz (~1 cup) grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, divided in 2½ cup portions
- 2 cans butternut squash puree or 1 whole butternut squash, cooked and pureed in blender
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1½ teaspoons freshly cracked pepper
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Oi/butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
- In a large stock pot or dutch oven, cook pasta to al dente (according to package directions). Drain in a colander, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Pour pasta into the casserole dish.
- In the same stock pot or dutch oven, heat butter. Fry sage leaves about 2 minutes until crisp then remove and set aside.
- Whisk in flour until it combines with butter into coarse crumbs. Pour in milk, ½ cup at a time, whisking vigorously. Pour in pasta water and whisk until smooth.
- Stir in cheese (sans ½ cup parmigiano), butternut squash, and sprinkle in nutmeg, cayenne, garlic powder, salt and pepper and continue whisking until smooth. Remove from heat.
- Stir butternut squash/cheese mixture into noodles until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and ½ cup parmigiano and a little more salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil.
- Bake on 375 for 20 minutes in the top part of the oven.