There’s nothing that spells comfort food like mac n’ cheese, amiright? I love a good mac n’ cheese just as much as the next person, as do my kids. Which means that it’s GAME ON to find a way to hide veggies in it, right moms?!
I used my Vitamix Ascent 3500 to make the creamiest, easiest sauce with a whack of butternut squash for this baked mac n’ cheese and… wowza! SO GOOD!
Butternut squash adds a hint of sweetness to the dish along with a velvety smoothness (it’s incredible blended, such a talented vegetable). Of course it is also so nutritious. I love sneaking in extra veggies wherever possible for our family, and the squash adds fibre and beta carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin C to this Mac n’ Cheese dish – yes please!
The creamy pasta is topped with a perfectly crunchy and flavourful Panko crumb that I am seriously crushing on! If you’re wondering what Panko is, it’s a Japanese breadcrumb that is extra crunchy. You can substitute regular breadcrumbs for the Panko if that’s all you have.
On another note, I made a vegan version of Mac n’ Cheese that was also to die for – I seriously couldn’t believe it was vegan, nor could my hubby! Options options my friends:). If you like the idea of adding butternut squash to your food (and if you don’t right now, you may after you taste this), try this Butternut Squash Carbonara or this Orange Butternut Squash Soup (so easy to make). Or if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, try this Butternut Squash Lasagne that has received rave reviews or this Apple and Butternut Squash Roasted Chicken.
Happy cooking and here’s to enjoying the last bit of comfort food before spring hits us (soon pretty please Mother Nature!).
Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheese with Crispy Herbed Panko
This recipe takes Mac n' cheese to a whole new level with the addition of butternut squash. The squash adds a sweetness to the dish along with a hit of fibre and beta carotene, and the best part is that nobody (kids included) will suspect it's there!
- 2 cups uncooked macaroni use whole grain to increase the fibre
- 2 cups ½” cubed butternut squash fresh or frozen
- 1 cup milk or unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup butter or vegan butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups cubed aged cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. dry oregano
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 2 tbsp. melted butter vegan butter or olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375F and lightly oil a 8x8” baking dish.
Cook the butternut squash until soft and drain. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in a medium pot of boiling salted water until al dente – drain, return the pasta to the pot and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the squash, milk, butter and flour in the blender (I used a Vitamix Ascent 3500) and, starting at Variable 1, gradually turn it up to Variable 10 and blend for 3 minutes (it should be steaming when ready). Add the cheese and blend on Variable 10 for another 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the macaroni, stir to combine, and transfer the macaroni into the prepared baking dish.
Combine the Panko Topping ingredients together in a medium bowl, stir to combine, and sprinkle over the macaroni.
Bake for 20-25 min until tops golden brown and serve immediately.