Sweet butternut squash is covered with a delicious cheese sauce and baked until golden and bubbly. This healthier version of the classic mac and cheese is perfect if you’re looking for something a little different!
My all time favorite comfort food is baked macaroni and cheese. When someone asks me what my “last meal” would be, that’s my answer. Now, it wouldn’t be just any mac and cheese… it would be the best ever.
Saying my recipe is the best is subjective, of course. Macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes that everyone has a particular type they like best. Baked, stovetop, sharp cheese flavor, mild cheese flavor, roux based, egg based, etc. My original recipe is one that I spent years getting the way I like mine best – creamy (but not too creamy), the perfect balance of mild and sharp cheese, and then baked with a flavorful and crunchy topping. So if you like what I like, then you will probably love my recipe.
Ok, so why all this talk about mac and cheese? Well, today’s recipe is a healthier version using spiralized butternut squash!
Ever since I bought my spiralizer I’ve been recreating healthier versions of my favorite pasta recipes. Enter the butternut squash “mac” and cheese.
Now, obviously swapping out pasta for butternut squash is going to give you a different flavor and texture. But it’s just so darn good that no one will care! The creamy and cheesy sauce is so delicious I could eat it with a spoon. So, if you’re looking for a low-carb version of the classic comfort food, then this recipe is for you!
You’ll want to start by spiralizing your butternut squash and then lightly roasting it to bring out the sweet flavor and get the cooking process started.
While you’re squash is roasting, you can make the decadent sauce. It’s just a basic béchamel, but I used almond milk (unsweetened) to lighten things up and because that’s what I had on hand. The almond milk made the sauce extra creamy and no one will ever know you didn’t use cow’s milk.
Once your sauce is thickened you’re ready to add the cheese. I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and a mild monterey jack.
The butternut squash only needs to roast for about 15-20 minutes until it’s starting to lightly caramelize around the edges but is still very firm. Toss it with the creamy cheese sauce and then make the topping.
Traditionally mac and cheese is topped with breadcrumbs, but I used almond meal. I mix it with parmesan, herbs and spices and the result is a lightly crunchy, but super flavorful topping.
This healthier version of macaroni and cheese has all of the comforting and cheesy goodness that you’re used to, but without the extra carbs and calories. It certainly satisfied my craving for mac and cheese and filled me up without weighing me down. I’d say this one is a winner!
I ate this on it’s own and was perfectly satisfied. However, it would make a great side dish or serve it up with a side salad if you want something more.
If you haven’t purchased a sprializer yet you need to. What are you waiting for? It will change your life and open up a whole new level of creativity in the kitchen!
- 2 Butternut Squashes (peeled and top part only)*
- Olive Oil, for drizzling
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 3 Tablespoons Tapioca Flour*
- 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 ½ Cups Milk (I used Almond Milk)
- 1/8 - ¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper, to taste, optional
- ¼ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 ½ Cups Grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
- 1 ½ Cups Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
- ¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- ¼ Cup Almond Meal
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
- 2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
- ¼ Teaspoon Paprika
- Preheat the oven to 425º
- Using a spiralizer, cut the butternut squash tops into thick linguine-like noodles. Lay them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the squash noodles for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. They will not be cooked through at this point.
- While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepot over low heat. Whisk in the tapioca starch and cook for 1 minute. Add in the Dijon mustard and whisk, and then pour in the almond milk. Whisk until smooth.
- Cook the béchamel sauce over medium heat until thick, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cayenne, garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat.
- Slowly stir in the cheddar and jack cheeses until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
- In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash noodles with the cheese sauce. Transfer the “mac” and cheese to a baking dish.
- In a small bowl combine the parmesan cheese, almond meal, fresh parsley, thyme, paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well and sprinkle evenly over the top of the “mac” and cheese.
- Bake the casserole for 25-30 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Let rest 10-15 minutes before digging in!
- *You can only spiralize the top portion of the butternut squash, not the bottom part where the seeds are.
- *I used tapioca flour as my thickener but you can use whatever your favorite is - gluten-free flour, all-purpose four, etc.