recipes-healthier-butternut-squash-mac-cheese

No matter the time of year, macaroni and cheese is the ULTIMATE comfort food.

This is a great way to prepare a slimmed-down version of a favorite dish just in time for spring—or to slip some extra veggies into your kids’ diets. They won’t even know the difference!

The butternut squash cuts out some of the high-fat, high-calorie cheese, but the consistency of the squash means you won’t sacrifice any creamy deliciousness. We also swapped in soy for whole milk, and used whole-wheat pasta and breadcrumbs, which will keep you satisfied longer. Roasted tomatoes were added for an extra nutritional punch.

Bonus: This recipe reheats amazingly well thanks to the smooth, creamy consistency of the butternut squash.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Serves 6

  • 3 large tomatoes, each cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat mini pasta shells
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (can substitute 2% milk if desired)
  • 1 cup shredded, extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cooked butternut squash puree (if frozen, thaw before mixing in)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with thyme and salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes have softened, 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

3. Grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish and set aside.

4. Cook pasta in boiling salted water, 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions (it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain and reserve.

5. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the soy milk, cheddar, Parmesan and butternut squash, stirring frequently until cheese has melted. Remove from heat and stir in salt, mustard, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

6. Combine pasta with the cheese sauce. Toss to coat. Season to taste.

7. Pour half of the mac and cheese mixture into the prepared baking dish. Layer on half of the roasted tomatoes. Repeat with remaining macaroni mixture and tomatoes. Sprinkle the top with Monterey Jack cheese.

8. In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and olive oil. Sprinkle over the top of the prepared casserole. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy!