A creamy macaroni and cheese paired with smoky and sweet butternut squash. The unlikely combination creates a satisfying balance to this roasted butternut squash mac and cheese.
For another take on classic macaroni and cheese, look no further than our classic Creamy Brie Mac and Cheese!
For my money, there is no meal more satisfying than mac and cheese. Creamy, cheesy macaroni is one of the most nostalgic dishes for me, and one that I’ll never get tired of. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one!
But that doesn’t mean that we need to be precious about it. Sometimes it’s find to take something classic and add a new twist.
For this recipe I’ve added one of my favourite vegetables, butternut squash. Sweet and tender butternut squash will ever get old for me, especially when roasted to concentrate the flavours and add a tinge of smokiness.
The result is pretty special and takes classic mac and cheese up a notch! Sweet and smoky butternut squash works better than I ever could have imagined with silky, creamy macaroni and cheese.
Roasted butternut squash
Roasting is one of the best ways to cook vegetables. It brings out the best flavours by caramelising the sugars and adding sweetness and depth.
Roasting vegetables takes more time than boiling or other methods of cooking them, but the results are worth it. All that extra time is invested well, and the resulting flavours just can’t be matched any other way.
I usually peel butternut squash when I am roasting it, but it isn’t strictly necessary. If the skin is left on it will roast just fine, but I find it more pleasant to eat when peeled.
Roasted squash works brilliantly for so many recipes like this one, but it is also amazing on its own or when added to salad.
How to make this recipe
The first step to make butternut squash mac and cheese is to roast the vegetable. Peel, deseed and cut the butternut squash into evenly sized chunks. You will only need about half of the butternut squash so put the rest aside to use at a different time.
Toss the squash pieces with salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder and olive oil to give them an even coating. Then roast in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the squash is tender and golden.
The cheese sauce and pasta can be prepared while the squash is roasting. For the macaroni, heat up a pot of water and follow the instructions on the package.
To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and then blend in flour using a wire whisk. Keep it on the heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring the whole time. Then add the milk and stir.
Cook for 5 minutes, during which the sauce will gradually thicken. Keep stirring with a whisk to prevent any lumps.
When you are happy with the consistency, take the sauce off the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese. Give it some time to melt in the hot sauce, and then stir it again to make sure it completely combines.
When the pasta is done, bring it together with the cheese sauce and stir it together to evenly coat the pasta. Top with the roasted butternut squash.
Recipe tips and notes
- Although it takes more effort, it is far better to grate your own cheese than use pre-grated cheese. This is because pre-grated cheese often has cellulose added to prevent clumping in the package. Unfortunately this also prevents proper melting. Grating your own cheese is more effort but will result in the smoothest sauce.
- Any short pasta can be substituted for macaroni. Fusilli and penne are particularly good.
- Cut the butternut squash into roughly similar sizes before roasting. This will ensure that all pieces cook at a similar rate.
More creamy pasta dishes
- Vegan Alfredo Sauce
- Vegetarian Mushroom Carbonara
- Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
- Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta with Burrata
- 450g/1/2 butternut squash cubed
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 500ml/2 cups milk
- 360g/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt to taste
- 454g/1 lbs macaroni
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Peel, cut and deseed the butternut squash. Cut one half into 2 inch cubes and reserve the other half for another use. Toss the squash with the mixture of salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder and the olive oil. Roast in the preheated oven on a large and rimmed baking sheet for 40-45 minutes or until tender and golden.
- While the squash is roasting, make the cheese sauce and cook the macaroni. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, blend in flour with a wire whisk. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes while stirring the entire time, then add milk and stir.
- Cook the sauce for 5 minutes, it will gradually thicken, continue stirring with a wire whisk to avoid lumps. When the sauce is the desired consistency take it off the heat and stir in cheddar cheese and allow to melt, then stir to combine.
- Drain the pasta and add directly to the sauce. Then top with the roasted butternut squash.
Grate your own cheese rather than using pre-grated cheese to ensure it melts properly.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 521Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 570mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 22g