Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Kale
Satisfying, creamy, comforting, flavorful, whole wheat, and lightened up! Makes great leftovers for the week.
I can’t believe it took me so long to make macaroni and cheese with butternut squash! I shared a photo of it the other week on snapchat (sallysbakeblog) and decided it was about time to share the recipe on my blog.
This mac and cheese was gobbled up quicker than any other pasta, soup, casserole, whatever, that I’ve made in a really long time. And the recipe makes enough to feed an army. We’re talking several days of leftovers. That’s how much Kevin and I loved this dish. Enough to eat every single day. And I’m not the hugest fan of pasta dishes (I know). Oh and there’s no meat! And Kevin still loved it! Proud moment.
You’ve probably heard of macaroni and cheese made with a cheesy butternut squash sauce before. I was never convinced that sauce, made primarily from squash, could produce the same comforting taste that regular cheese sauce does. I’m sorry but squash: you will never be cheese.
However. This sauce. Oh my gosh. Is unlike anything (anything!) I’ve ever had before. I love it so much that I’ve even been putting it over vegetables instead of pasta. But for a satisfying meal, I combine it with whole wheat pasta and kale.
My creamy butternut squash mac and cheese with kale, say that three times fast, is exquisite. Normally I wouldn’t use a term like exquisite to describe macaroni and cheese but then again– normally I wouldn’t put squash into a cheese sauce. All you taste is this wonderfully creamy, rich, cheesy sauce that has a light sweetness with plenty of flavor. Pureed butternut squash is replacing the need for cups and cups of cheese, butter, and cream. And this replacement makes a much more waistline-friendly base for your meal. Poured over whole wheat pasta and tossed with kale, you have yourself a perfectly satisfying chilly weather meal.
I can’t repeat enough how much we loved this healthier macaroni and cheese!
Here’s a quick walk through of how you’re going to make it.
First, you’ll want to soften up that butternut squash. Boil, then simmer it with milk, chicken broth, and garlic. I usually use skim or 1% milk, but your favorite milk (dairy or non) works. The garlic will really infuse flavor into the squash during this stage. After 20 minutes or so, puree the squash in a blender with a little Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. I snuck Greek yogurt into this dish! Yes! I’ve also recently tried using cream cheese instead of Greek yogurt– just as tasty. Great alternative if you don’t have yogurt in the fridge. Pour the puree into a large bowl and add shredded cheese. A little more salt and pepper, to taste, as well. I like gruyère or white cheddar cheese here.
Back when the squash was cooking, you can start the pasta. I use whole wheat. Any shape/variety works! During the last few minutes of boil time, add some kale* to the cooking pasta. This will quickly wilt down the kale, which is important because softened kale has much better flavor in dishes. Drain it all, then combine with the sauce. So simple.
*If you hate greens: don’t fret, the kale is optional!
Add all of this cheesy, flavorful goodness to a large baking dish or oven-safe skillet, top with a little extra cheese (optional), breadcrumbs (also optional, but ahh! the added crunch!), and bake.
There’s definitely a few different pans involved and a blender to clean, but the taste. Oh my lanta–> this just corrected to oh my santa. The taste, cheese lovers, is phenomenal. 10 thumbs up, 10 stars, all the love in the world for this homemade mac & cheese. Please make this!
As always, read the recipe in full before beginning. The pasta can start as the squash simmers. And hashtag #sallysbakingaddiction on Instagram so I can see all the SBA recipes you make! ♥
Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with Kale
Satisfying, creamy, comforting, flavorful, whole wheat, and lightened up!
- 4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 1 large squash)
- 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) chicken broth (I use low sodium)
- 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) milk1
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 pound uncooked whole wheat penne pasta (or any shape/variety)
- optional: 1 - 2 cups (70-140g) kale, roughly chopped with stems discarded
- 1/4 cup (60g) plain Greek yogurt2
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 and 1/2 heaping cups (150g) shredded cheese (I like gruyère or white cheddar)3
- optional: 1/3 cup (30g) whole wheat breadcrumbs
- optional: chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Combine the squash, chicken broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. You want the squash very tender, so pierce it with a fork to make sure it is quite soft. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C).
- Begin the pasta. I usually do this as the squash is simmering. Boil enough water for your pasta (check the package directions), then add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta just until al dente-- or when the pasta is still a little firm. Add the kale, and cook for another minute or two. Drain the pasta and kale. Set aside.
- Pour the warm butternut squash mixture (squash + liquid) into a blender. Add the yogurt, salt, and pepper. Secure the lid and blend until smooth. Pour into a very large bowl and stir in the cheese until combined. It's ok if the cheese does not fully melt. Taste the sauce-- if you'd like more salt/pepper/garlic, add more.
- Add the pasta and kale to the bowl and stir until combined. Pour everything into a large casserole dish, a 9x13 baking pan, or a 12-inch oven-safe skillet. Top with breadcrumbs and an extra sprinkle of cheese, if desired.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly on the sides. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley on top. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.
- Make ahead tip: Great freezer recipe! Prepare the recipe through step 5, cover tightly, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and continue with step 6. Or prepare the dish in full and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes or until warmed through.
- Any milk works. I typically use skim or 1%, but any dairy or nondairy milks are great.
- I always use nonfat Greek yogurt, but low fat or full fat work too. Instead of Greek yogurt, try 1/4 cup of cream cheese. A little more rich, but definitely worth it.
- I like to use closer to 1 and 2/3 cups of cheese. Lots of varieties work here! You can also sprinkle the top of the dish with more shredded cheese before going into the oven in step 5.
Adapted from Cooking Light
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