Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese on Foodess.com*There’s still time to cast your vote for Foodess in Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards! Voting closes tonight (April 19th) at midnight.

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I’m nesting. Not in the typical bootie-knitting, floor-scrubbing, nursery painting way – but in the food way.

Pretty much every time I cook, I make enough to feed 18 people, and squirrel meals away in the freezer for future Jenn to appreciate. There’s enough gas potential in the amount of beans I’ve frozen in burrito-format to launch a spacecraft.

Everything else is fairly pasta-centric – lasagna, casseroles, and this macaroni and cheese.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese on Foodess.com

Everyone – mostly people I don’t know – seems to think a baby bump is an invitation for one particular piece of unsolicited advice, which is, “Get lots of sleep now! ‘Cause you won’t get any for a long, long time!”.

Why, every stranger in the coffee shop, do you feel the need to impart that useless piece of counsel on an achy, nauseous, hormonal pregnant chick?

You can’t actually stock up on sleep. It’s not very useful advice. There’s a 92% chance I go totally bananas on the next person to tell me this.

I’ve resolved to only say warm, positive, encouraging things to moms-to-be. Join me?

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese on Foodess.com

In any case, as nutritional insurance against this zombie state that has been predicted for my future by so many helpful strangers, I’m doing my best to load everything up with vegetables, in case I’m less inclined to toss a side salad when – *cue dramatic movie trailer voicesleep comes to an end (dun dun dun).

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese on Foodess.com

Butternut squash totally disappears into creamy mac and cheese. I think I could have even doubled the amount I used. It adds a nice orange colour, too – nice, since homemade mac and cheese can often look a bit anemic.

I used strong aged cheddar, and it was delicious. I am sure gruyere mixed in there would be incredible.

I jazzed up the topping a bit with lemon zest and fresh parsley, and it really made the dish sing. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you feel like filling your freezer!

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Note: to cook butternut squash, you can either peel, chop and steam it until tender OR cut it in half (skin left on) and microwave on high power for 10-15 minutes, until tender, and then scoop out flesh. Puree in a blender or food processor.
  • ¾ lb (340 g) penne or elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 10 ounces (2½ cups) shredded cheddar cheese, or a combination of cheddar and gruyere
  • 1 cup cooked, pureed butternut squash (see cooking note above), from ½ medium squash
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • salt, to taste
For topping
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest, optional
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente (for elbow macaroni, that's about 7 minutes, for penne, more like 10). Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, a bit at a time.
  4. Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low and cook until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add shredded cheese, whisking until smooth. Whisk in butternut squash puree, nutmeg, pepper, and salt to taste. Add pasta to the sauce and stir to evenly coat. Transfer pasta to a buttered 2 quart (2 litre) baking dish.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine all topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over pasta. Transfer dish to oven and bake until topping is golden and sauce is bubbling at edges, about 20 minutes.


  • http://deliciousness.posterous.com col

    oh silly unhelpful people who want to stick their nose in your business! I’m sure by now you’ve crafted a bunch of things to properly put them in their place.

    PS. I had no idea that you were nominated. Congrats! Voted for you. Good luck :)

    • foodess

      Haha the only thing I’ve crafted is the smile-with-my-mouth-but-not-with-my-eyes. Thank you for voting for me!!!

  • http://twitter.com/andreabemis Dishing Up The Dirt

    congrats on being nominated! this mac and cheese has my name written all over it!

    • foodess

      Thank you :)

  • LL

    I am a working mother of 2 children, ages 4 and 6. While my children sleep well and sleep long, I find myself up at all hours of the night trying to (a) carve out time for myself (b) exercise (c) catch up on work so I don’t get fired (d) prepare nutritious food that they might actually eat (hence, my subscription to your RSS feed). I got 3.5 hours of sleep last night because of horrendous work deadlines.

    I look back longingly now at the days when I could sleep in, nap, go to bed early.

    While I might not intend to give you unsolicited advice, I might find myself telling you to sleep now before your babe is born simply because that is exactly what I want to do. Oh, to be able to sleep 10 hours straight without interruption!

    Does that make any sense? I am near hysterical with lack of sleep today.

    • foodess

      Bear hugs to you, LL, you sound like Super-Mama. I wouldn’t lose my bananas on you… hope I didn’t offend. Wishing you a restful, relaxing weekend! :-)

  • http://twitter.com/wvanillasugar Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Aww yeah, this looks so awesome!!

    • foodess

      Thanks :)

  • http://twitter.com/bkfarmgirl Brooklyn Farm Girl

    This looks great. I’ve never really cooked with butternut squash so I think this might be a good introduction as you’ve mentioned it disappears. Also, I also seem to cook for more than just the 2 of us that eat the meals and freezing is a great way for yummy quick meals in the future.

    • foodess

      Definitely! Although butternut squash is so delicious in its own right that you should try it in a recipe where it really stands out, too!

  • marie @ little kitchie

    This looks absolutely heavenly!!! I love the addition of lemon zest in the topping for brightness!

    • foodess

      Mmm hmm! It plays off the earthy squash nicely.

  • kankana

    I LOVE Mac and Cheese and seriously, who doesn’t! And when there is twist added to it, it just becomes more interesting, like this one :)

  • Amanda Amos

    I’m looking forward to making this delicious meal tonight!

    • foodess

      Hope you liked, Amanda! :)

  • http://blueberrykitchen.wordpress.com/ Rosie – Blueberry Kitchen

    This looks and sounds absolutely sublime, thanks so much for the recipe!

    • foodess

      Thanks, Rosie!

  • mrvlegov

    I just had my 3rd baby and I’m still trying to figure out why people say that about sleep. I could never sleep when I was pregnant due to heartburn, backpain and all the other wonderful aches and pains that come with pregnancy. On the other hand, my babies sleep right next to me and I pull them in bed and nurse them and they go right back to sleep. None of them have ever kept me up at night. Yes, I have to wake up and nurse them but I just do it in my bed. Also, my babies would sleep all morning too so if I have the luxury of being able to sleep in they will let me sleep until 1200. To me, maternity leave feels like a vacation and a chance to catch up on sleep!!

    • foodess

      I love you. Just sayin’.

    • Faiza Raintree

      Ms. Foodess loves you. IIIIIIIII, on the other hand, love your babies. I’m sending mine over to your house for some training! That said, I find motherhood to be such a joy and I really enjoyed mine when they were babies. My littlest is almost 3 and I’m trying to enjoy every minute of her last little bit of toddlerhood *sigh*.

  • Liz

    The butternut squash/cheddar cheese/pasta combo is one of my favorites. I will have to give this recipe a try the next time around!

    I’m about 4.5 mos pregnant, and while I have not yet received much in the way of unsolicited advice from strangers, I have received my share of irritating comments from (I’m sure, well-meaning) family and friends. Like my mother who teased me for “having so much fun shopping for ‘high fashion’ baby products, even though babies mostly just sleep, poop, and eat, you know.” As if I have not spent endless hours researching newborn “essentials” and figuring out where to get the best deals so that I did not overdo it or overspend. It has been a chore – not much fun at all! I guess it’s probably best to just keep one’s mouth closed around pregnant women, since we can be a little sensitive :-)

    All the best to you & your husband in the coming weeks!

    • foodess

      Haha yes, you’re right – perhaps we’re just oversensitive. All the best to you, too! :)

  • Greg Edwards

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was incredible! Has already inspired future mac & cheese concoctions! The possibilities are endless! Thank you!

    • foodess

      Awesome, glad you enjoyed, Greg!

  • Faiza Raintree

    OMG. I am so making this as my first vacation dish! So what if it’s summer?! Thank you for your lovely, decadent, handsome recipes. I’m an instant fan!

  • Erin Marini

    OMG! This is amazingly yummy! I wanted to lick the pan before I even put it into the oven. I also love the idea of sneaking in the butternut squash. Hopefully my 2 yr old will enjoy it too!!