This Healthy Mac and Cheese is thick, cheesy and SO ultra-creamy you won't believe it's made without any processed cheese or artificial ingredients!! It's SO easy to prepare and the perfect way to satisfy your cheesy cravings without all the guilt! Plus, it's a great way to sneak more vegetables into your kid's diet! Give your macaroni and cheese a skinny makeover with this tried and true recipe! Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.
1 ½heaping CupsGrated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese(about 4 oz.) (SEE NOTES)
1/3heaping CupFinely Grated Parmesan Cheese- plus more for serving
Optional for Serving: Fresh Thyme, Scallions or Parsley
Boil water for pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Sauté onions and squash: While water is coming to a boil, heat the butter in a separate large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the squash and season with nutmeg, thyme, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and a scant ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minute.
Add liquid and simmer: Add in the half-and-half and stock. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer (DO NOT BOIL). Immediately reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the squash is extremely tender, about 20-22 minutes. Turn off heat.
While the squash is cooking, boil the pasta: Generously season boiling water with salt. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water, and set aside.
Puree sauce: Once the squash is tender, use an immersion blender to puree the squash and stock mixture until smooth and creamy. Alternatively, transfer the squash mixture to a stand blender in batches and puree until smooth. Return the squash puree to the pot.
Add seasoning and cheese: Turn heat to low and add both cheeses gradually, 1 handful at a time, whisking until smooth between each addition. Taste the sauce and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
Add pasta: Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir until the pasta is coated and combined with the sauce. Add some of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick.
Serve: Ladle the mac and cheese into individual serving bowls and garnish with fresh herbs and more parmesan if desired. Enjoy!
Squash: To save time on prep, purchase already peeled and cubed butternut squash from the grocery store. You need roughly 16 ounces (1 pound) of diced squash. (You can find peeled and diced squash in the produce section of most major grocery stores.)
Cheddar Cheese: Make sure you purchase a good quality, sharp cheddar cheese for this recipe. And, shred the cheddar yourself using the large holes of a box grater! Pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking agents and additives that prevent the cheese from smoothly melting. I used a sharp aged white cheddar; however, you can use any good-melting cheese. (See the post for a full list of cheeses to use!)
Parmesan cheese: Use the small holes on a box grater or use a food processor to finely grate the parmesan cheese.
Make in advance: The butternut squash cheese sauce can be prepared a day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (See the post for full details on preparing the recipe in advance, storage tips and freezing instructions.)
Nutritional information is an approximation based upon 8 servings. Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.