October 14, 2015

Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

I have been seeing butternut squash pasta dishes all over the place lately and I had to find out what was so good about this creamy sauce.

This was the first time I had ever tasted butternut squash.  I wasn't even sure what a butternut squash looked like and I had to "google" it while I was at the grocery store.  I picked the biggest one I could find (which ended up costing over $6 - wow) and of course I only ended up needing about 1/2 of it for my recipe.  So a medium-size butternut squash should be plenty big.  

Rather than going out to eat on Saturday night like we usually do, I decided to make this mac and cheese.  I was so surprised I REALLY LIKED this dish.  What even surprised me more, was that my Dad liked it.  He is pretty picky and when I took him a bowl, I told him to at least have one bite before I told him what it was made with.  He took a bite and said that's good and he even ate the entire bowl.  When I told him it was made with butternut squash, Greek yogurt and wheat noodles he said you couldn't even tell and it was creamy and cheesy.  

The sauce is thick and creamy and very very cheesy and I couldn't tell I used wheat noodles either.  I'm going to have to start buying those more often.  The broccoli was the perfect addition and I could have added even more.  The only thing I could think of changing is maybe adding a little onion next time, because I love onion in my mac and cheese.  There is plenty of cheese is this recipe, but it is loaded with some healthy stuff too.  I thought it was great and it even tastes just as good leftover.
Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
slightly adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

4 c. peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 1/4 c. milk
1 1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 (13.25 oz.) box elbow wheat pasta 
2-3 c. fresh broccoli florets
1/2 - 3/4 c. Greek yogurt
salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. shredded Italian Cheese Blend
1 c. grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. Johnny's Garlic Seasoning (or garlic powder)
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
butter spray, melted butter or cooking spray

Combine the squash, milk, chicken broth and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until butternut squash is tender, about 15 minutes or so.  If you can easily mash the butternut squash with a fork, then it's ready.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente.  A few minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets to the boiling pasta water and cook for a few minutes.  Drain when done.    

Carefully pour the warm butternut squash mixture into a powerful blender or food processor.  Add the yogurt, salt and pepper.  Puree until mixture is completely smooth and combined.  Pour into a large bowl and mix in the cheese until melted.  Last, stir in the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli.  Pour creamy mixture into a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking pan.  

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic seasoning and dried parsley and sprinkle evenly over the top of the pasta.  Spray top lightly with buttery spray, cooking spray or drizzle with a little melted butter.  Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from oven and serve.  Serves: 6-8.   


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