A lighter take on everyone’s favorite comfort food! This easy stovetop butternut squash macaroni and cheese comes together quickly, which makes it perfect for busy weeknights!
Happy Monday friends! Did you all have a nice weekend? My weekend flew by. As a matter of fact, so did all of last week!
In case you didn’t know, I had a little 5-day getaway at my parents’ house. Wednesday I spent the day with my mom – we went to my first wedding dress fitting, then to lunch at the location that my shower will be held, and then did some shopping. After that I got to catch up with some friends at dinner and a movie! We saw “How to Be Single” – I definitely recommend it – it was humorous and had a cute storyline.
The rest of my days home were spent cooking, tackling some DIY projects for my shower, and organizing my stash of “stuff” that I couldn’t fit into my apartment when I moved here 2 years ago. All in all it was a great week!
Oh, and in case you were wondering – I wore 3 shirts, 2 pair of leggings, and 1 pair of jeans. I ended up washing a shirt and pair of leggings that I wore on Tuesday so that I could wear it to drive home on Friday. Basically I could have fit everything I needed into my purse. ???
Instead I went home with a massive bag, plus a bag of shoes and totally didn’t have to. I can guarantee you, though, if I didn’t overpack I would have regretted it!
Now, let’s talk about this tasty recipe!
I’m having a bit of a love affair with stovetop mac and cheese lately. I mean, what’s not to love? You boil up your favorite pasta and toss it with cheese sauce. Easy peasy. By the way, if you haven’t tried my buffalo chicken version, you need to!
I’ve actually made this butternut squash version a few times now and decided I definitely needed to share it. This recipe came about on a total whim when I didn’t have anything planned for dinner one night. I started searching through my cabinets and freezer – I had frozen winter squash puree that you may remember from this post. Of course, I always have some gluten-free pasta hanging out in my pantry, which comes in handy on these what’s-for-dinner nights.
I thought a mac and cheese would be perfect, but then I realized I didn’t have any milk. I figured I’d give it a shot with chicken broth instead. It worked perfectly!
I won’t call this a healthy dish, per se, but it’s definitely lighter than your typical mac and cheese. You won’t miss the milk at all, it’s got plenty of cheese, and you’ve got an added nutritional boost from butternut squash!
You can use any winter squash you want – acorn, delicata, kabocha, butternut, etc. I used a mixture in my puree, but butternut squash is probably the most commonly purchased/easy to find squash. Plus, you can find a frozen puree pretty easily if you’re feeling lazy about roasting and pureeing your own!
I can promise you, with complete confidence, that even butternut squash haters will eat this. You know Kyle is anti-butternut squash, but he gobbles this up every single time. It’s cheesy and creamy without being too squash-y. Make sense?
I’m convinced most of Kyle’s pickiness is mental, by the way. He pretty much eats anything I put in front of him, except for mushrooms. There are definitely butternut squash dishes I’ve made that he’s not fond of, but this one he loves and even requests.
The best part of this recipe is that it comes together really fast, which makes it perfect for a last minute dinner on busy weeknights. To make clean up simple, I boil the pasta and after I drain and rinse it (I always rinse gluten-free pasta), I make the sauce in the same pot. You simply need to heat up the puree with the chicken broth, and then melt in the cheese. How much easier can it get?!
I like to top my stovetop mac and cheese dishes with toasted breadcrumbs. That way I get my favorite part about baked mac and cheese, but without all the work/time involved. The topping is totally optional, but I highly recommend it for added texture and flavor.
If you’re a mac and cheese fan, you need to try this one. It’s the ultimate comfort food for me, but this version comes with a bit less guilt! No milk and no flour – and you can definitely make this vegetarian by using veggie stock instead of chicken stock!
- 12 oz. Gluten-Free Penne Pasta, or other shape or regular pasta if you aren’t gluten-free
- 1 ½ Cup Butternut Squash Puree, or any other winter squash puree
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock, or vegetable stock
- 2 Cups Grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
- ½ Cup Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
- ¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- ¼ Cup Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs, or regular breadcrumbs if you’re not gluten-free
- Pinch of Garlic Powder
- Pinch of Dried Parsley
- Pinch of Paprika
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add a few generous pinches of salt. Add in your pasta and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes less than the package instructions, and then drain and rinse (only rinse it if you’re using gluten-free pasta, as this helps it from being too starchy). Set aside.
- Using the same pot that you cooked the pasta in, add the squash puree and the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and slowly melt in the cheese, a handful at a time.
- Stir in the pasta and allow it to heat through for about 1-2 minutes.
- In a small sauté pan, melt the butter and add in the breadcrumbs and spices. Stir until the breadcrumbs are lightly golden and toasty.
- Serve the mac and cheese in bowls and top each serving with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs.