This Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese recipe is so super easy – it takes well under 30 minutes and doesn’t involve making a roux, plus it’s a deliciously sneaky way of getting 1 of your 5 a day – perfect for fussy eaters!
I love the idea of adding butternut squash to macaroni cheese – not only is it a really easy and delicious way of getting 1 of your 5 a day, but also the sweetness of the butternut squash contrasts beautifully with the sharp saltiness of a good mature cheddar.
There are lots of recipes all over the internet for Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese (or Butternut Mac and Cheese as my friends over the pond prefer to say), but a lot of them are rather complicated, involve making a roux (which I know sends many otherwise perfectly competent cooks into a bit of a spin), or use far too many pots and pans for my liking! So I set about creating a really super simple version of Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese that could be made in minutes and using only 2 pans.
Many of the recipes I looked at started by boiling the butternut squash, then making a cheese sauce and then mixing the two together. It occurred to me that a step could be cut out easily by boiling the butternut squash in the milk itself, which would not only save on time and washing up, but also mean that more of the nutrients from the butternut squash would be saved (rather than being drained off in the cooking water) AND the butternut squash would act as a thickener, meaning there would be no need to make a roux.
I tried out my ideas, and it sort of worked, but my first attempt was a bit runny, so I came up with a rather ingenious solution to the problem. I part cooked the pasta the normal way and then let it finish off cooking in the sauce – the pasta itself absorbs some of the water, resulting in a macaroni cheese with a lovely soft saucy consistency, but without being too runny. I like this more saucy consistency to my macaroni cheese, however if you prefer a thicker sauce, you could always mix a tablespoon of cornflour with a little milk, and then add this to the sauce before adding the pasta.
Mostly in the UK we finish off our macaroni cheese under the grill or in the oven, but I notice that many American recipes don’t do that…and it made me wonder why we bother in the UK. Yes, it’s sort of nice to have those lovely crunchy bits on top, but it’s a lot of fuss and bother – not to mention extra washing up – AND an extra 10-20 minutes cooking time…I think I can live without those crunchy bits.
But if you simply can’t do without the crunchy crispy crust on top of your macaroni cheese, then simply tip the finished pasta into a shallow oven dish and sprinkle with a little extra cheese and/or bread crumbs, then place under a hot grill until golden and bubbling…then find someone else to tackle the extra washing up 😉
I think this works best with a simple salad, but you could always serve this up with a few veggies, if you prefer – a mix of peas, sweetcorn and broccoli would be nice. And wine wise, a lovely crisp sauvignon blanc would cut beautifully through the sweetness of the butternut squash.
- 500g butternut squash, cut into 1cm cubes
- 300ml milk
- Salt and pepper
- 300g pasta, any shape (I used spirals)
- 100g mature cheddar cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
- Salad or vegetables to serve
- Place the cubed butternut squash and milk, plus some salt and pepper in a large deep saucepan (it needs to be big enough to fit all the cooked pasta later).
- Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for 8 minutes until the butternut squash is tender.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta for about 8 minutes until it is nearly, but not quite, done to your liking, then drain.
- When the sauce is ready, use a hand blender to blitz to a smooth consistency (or a potato masher if you would prefer a slightly rougher consistency).
- Next add 100g cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until melted.
- Then add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir together. Cook on a low heat for 3-5 minutes, until the pasta is done to your liking and the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Serve with a simple salad or vegetables and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
If you wish to make this into a pasta bake, tip the finished pasta into a shallow oven dish and sprinkle with a little extra cheese and/or bread crumbs and cook under a hot grill until golden and bubbling.
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