April 19, 2013

Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese

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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.

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?

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 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!


  • 3/4 lb (340 g) penne or elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese, or a combination of cheddar and gruyere
  • 1 cup cooked, pureed butternut squash (see cooking note above), from 1/2 medium squash
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 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
  • 1/2 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.

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Hi, I’m Jenn! I’m in the Foodess kitchen making a spectacular mess + making something delicious, in roughly equal parts. So happy that you’ve joined me!

  • yayyyy! Ive been looking for this recipe!! cant wait to try it ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I know, Jaime! I totally thought of you ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

      • I am going to try it on the weekend. I know it will be fantastic, I have yet to try one of yours that isnt! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love your wit and humor. I love your photographs and recipes. You always choose exactly what i like to try seasonally. having said that, and i will always follow you, i thought i’d take this opportunity to say “i think dark nail polish does the professionalism of your photographs an injustice.”

    • Thank you for the nice comments, and thank you for following! … but “I think my shiny dark autumn manicure was really pretty” so I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Isabelle F.

    The soup looks amazing, and I really love your nails!! ย  I think it’s nice to put a bit of yourself into the photos, it doesn’t always have to be serious…ย  Can’t wait to try this recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Abigail

    I agree with Isabelle – I really love the shot with the carrots ๐Ÿ™‚ No injustice done to your professionalism, in my opinion.ย  Great post! I love autumn soups, I’ll try this one for sure! Thank you for sharing.

  • Love the look of your soup and your manicure Jenn! Carrots and ginger are such a winning combination.

  • Daubioulle chantal

    qui fait de si jolies photos ?

  • I often make a carrot soup almost identical to this one, but I often add some orange as well. Love your idea of giving it a spicy cayenne kick, will try that one next time!

  • Andrea Wages

    My boyfriend actually made this, we drew straws.ย  He was skeptical that something with just carrots and onions (I clarified there was ginger, cumin and pepper too) would taste good.ย  He was pleasantly shocked and went back for several servings.ย  He enjoyed his without yogurt, I with yogurt and it was fantastic.ย  A must have in this house, especially on days that my braces hurt and I cant eat anything else!

    Thanks for such great recipes!

    • You’re most welcome, Andrea! Thanks for coming back to comment! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 4cmeng

    super easy, and impressed my dinner guests!

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl’s dabbles

    Mmmm…I love carrots and ginger together…and with a little yogurt? Yum!

  • Cheeku Bhasin

    A wonderful post and pictures. I have posted a link to it on my own recipe for spiced carrot and ginger soup. Do take a look when you have a chance. I have also recently published a cookbook on healthy Indian food.
    Best wishes,

    Cheeku Bhasin

  • Michelle McNulty

    This was SO tasty!! I pureed the soup in halves and my blender BROKE when pureeing the second half!! Half of my delicious soup all over the counter and floor ๐Ÿ™ So I decided to eat all of what was saved (the first half) in one sitting with a toasted piece of garlic bread made with Earth Balance butter – SO freakin good!


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