Macaroni and cheese is probably my most requested comfort food in need of major lightening-up. To be honest, I actually have a few versions that I think are delicious. This one, with creamy butternut squash, is really wonderful. What I love, is that it’s not just lightened up, but the squash adds so much nutritionally speaking and quite a bit in the flavor department.
The butternut creates a creamy texture and a very slight sweetness. I like to compliment that by using the sharpest white cheddar I can find and balance it all with a few shakes of Tabasco and a pinch of mustard powder.
Feel free to add some greens to this to amp-up the veggie factor even more! Try adding coarsely chopped broccoli, spinach or kale. This makes a great side-dish or make it a complete meal by serving with a nice big salad.
- 1 pound butternut squash, cubed into 1 inch cubes
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1¼ cup vegetable broth
- 1½ cup milk (see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
- ¼ teaspoon dry ground mustard
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 pound uncooked whole grain rotini pasta
- olive oil
- ½ cup whole wheat panko
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 12 inch round or 13x9 inch baking dish and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, combine the squash, garlic, vegetable broth and milk. Bring to a boil and reduce to a light simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool as you boil the pasta.
- Over high heat, bring a pot of water to a boil with a few pinches of sea salt. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
- In a blender, or with an immersion blender, blend the squash mixture along with the Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, Tabasco and dry mustard. Add the grated cheese and just stir in.
- Drain the cooked pasta and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and stir to coat.
- Pour the pasta mixture into the greased baking dish.
- In a small bowl, combine the panko with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Mix to combine using your fingers.
- Top the casserole with the panko mixture.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and slightly bubbly.
I love full fat Greek yogurt best, but lower fat or non-fat work well, too. Fage is my yogurt of choice. It isn't overly tart and adds a nice creaminess.
Super sharp white cheddar works so well with this, but I've also used a spicy Pepper Jack that is really nice. You might even try a reduced-fat cheese.
Adapted from Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese by Cooking Light