Saturday, October 1, 2011

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

When I was young the only mac and cheese I would eat was Velveeta Shells and Cheese. I hated Kraft (I know, crazy, a kid who didn't like Kraft?!) and I cringed when my mom told me she was making homemade mac and cheese (I would die for some of that today!). I never would have imagined that twenty years later I'd be enjoying something like butternut squash mac and cheese, with non other than nutritional yeast as an ingredient.

Heather recommended I try this butternut squash mac and cheese from Cooking Light magazine. It sounded delicious, but as always I knew I would have to make some "Gina tweaks". As most recipes do, this one had garlic, which I had to omit due to my low FODMAPs diet restrictions (although there are several other FODMAPs in this recipe, so it's tough to make FODMAPs-free or even low FODMAPs). But I can assure you that the garlic was not missed in this recipe. Even my garlic-sweating fiance can attest to that one. Here is the original recipe, with my modifications in red.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
(Adapted from Cooking Light)

Makes ~8 servings

  • 3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash)
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk (unsweetened almond milk, vanilla)
  • 2 garlic cloves (omitted)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese (substituted 1 cup grated parmesan)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided (substituted 1/4 cup nutritional yeast)
  • 1 pound uncooked cavatappi (substituted gluten free penne pasta to make it lower FODMAPs)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine squash, broth, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, parmesan, and nutritional yeast. Stir until combined.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.

6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

 For those of you who are vegan, try this with a soy or rice cheese, or even Daiya cheese (it melts really well). And of course use a vegetable broth instead of chicken.

I hadn't had mac and cheese in a really, really long time. Neither had Nick. We both gobbled this up pretty fast. It was delicious, and Nick didn't even know he was eating nutritional yeast. Muahaha.

Neither of us really tasted the butternut squash, but we weren't too surprised since the recipe's main ingredients (the cheese!) had pretty powerful flavors. I will certainly be making this again.

Nutrition Facts
(for 1/8 of the recipe)
QUESTION: What was your favorite mac and cheese as a child?

And now, this week's nutrition and health news;

Obese Now Outnumber the Hungry
(Yeah, you read that right. We are a nation of overfed and undernourished people. I like to think things will change, but I'm not holding my breath...)

The Healthy Skeptic: Supplements Claim To Breakdown Gluten
(Don't be fooled!!)

Industry Steams Ahead With Front of Package Labeling, Days Before IOM Report Due



  1. Instead of mac and cheese I loved "pasta roni" from the box- GROSS!

  2. I am dying to try nutritional yeast. Of course, I won't be replacing my love of cheese for it, but I hear it imparts such a nice flavor.

  3. such a comforting meal! I'd love to try it! :)

  4. I love anything with butternut squash and I used to be a big mac and cheese fan before I gave up cheese because it hurts my stomach :) But this definitely sounds delicious, and maybe with the nutritional yeast I could have a little bit with no problems :)

    Hope you are having a good weekend!

  5. You didn't like Kraft when you were a kid??? You crazy girl, you!
    Your healthy version of mac n' cheese looks so hearty and comforting on a cold fall day. Well done!

  6. This sounds wonderful!!! I'll be putting it on my menu this week!

  7. sounds like a delish recipe. love the use of squash for fall and all of the cheeses.

  8. I loved this recipe - so glad you tried it.

    I'm hoping to get another butternut squash from my CSA to make this again.

    I made some similar substitutions - whole wheat pasta, etc.

  9. this is a great recipe i just can't make it because the sound of mac n cheese makes me want to cry hahahaha i just hate hate hate the sloshingness of mac n cheese. SO much like so much. ew hahaha but i know this would taste delicious i just can't do the sound!

  10. I'm sure this is amazing! I love homemade mac & cheese. I rarely make it, so I haven't ventured beyond the classic cheesy baked version. But this would definitely add a health boost to the comfort dish!

  11. More squash pasta recipes!! Yum :) I need to go out and get me a butternut squash.

  12. My parents never bought from the box macaroni and cheese and so I grew up with home made mac n cheese.

    When I was in college I would sometimes splurge on Annie's gluten free mac and cheese.

  13. Never really had Mac and Cheese as a kid, we had one of those houses- ha. This is s great idea, I like your tweaks and it looks beautiful. Vanilla almond milk, really? Do you taste it?

  14. How did I miss this in Cooking Light!? YUM! The nutrition stats are great - totally reasonable for a recipe with the main ingredient of CHEESE!! :) Do you guys have many butternut squash left? Are you picking any yet?

    Hope you have a great week, Gina! And I'll just ignore your comment about my beloved Illini ;)

  15. love this recipe! it looks so good and comforting. i have to be honest i love all kinds of mac and cheese-even the vegan variety :)

  16. My Mom made the best mac n cheese growing up - so simple 2x2x2x2.

    Two cups macaroni, 2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cups cheddar cheese.

    I've added cauliflower to my mac n cheese - I'll have to give this one a go! Thanks Gina. :D

  17. that looks sooo yummy! thanks for sharing! My fave as a kid was white cheddar Presidents Choice brand (canadian!) So good but so badddd haha

  18. ooo this looks SO good and comforting! YUM!

  19. I will have to try this recipe with chris. A long time ago I made some kind of butternut squash mac and cheese recipe from somewhere but it turned out waaay too sweet and just wasn't right. He's hated anything like it since. This recipe looks fab and healthy!

  20. I haven't had mac and cheese in a long time. I love the addition of butternut squash and agree with you that quinoa pasta would be a good too.

  21. I'm soooo excited about your power cookies!! Can't wait to fix them!

    When I saw the title of today's post, I had to smile - I was reading this cooking light recipe just yesterday! :-) It sounded amazing to me in the magazine, and it looks even more amazing in your photos... Now I'm even more eager to fix the recipe this weekend!! :-)

  22. seriously great looking recipe. I copied it into a reminder on my calendar to make for a gathering in a couple weekends! cooking light always has good ideas- and you have great substitution ideas for it! I think people don't realize how you can change so many things in a recipe to fit your needs...

    great links at the end of the post too!

  23. This recipe looks AMAZING. Bookmarked :)