A good, homemade, creamy macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite things ever. Especially on these chilly fall evenings.
My mom made this version for us recently and I did not believe her when she told me it's pretty low in calories! 390 for a hearty 1 1/3 cup serving, 10.9 grams of fat... oh, it's still sinfully cheesy, but a lot healthier than most.
The secret? The sauce is made with pureed butternut squash! It makes it delicious and rich, with no butter, no flour, and no cream.
Here's what you'll need:
3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1lb squash)
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth, but of course we make it vegetarian)
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup (4 oz) grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 pound uncooked cavatappi (I used penne)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup panko
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Combine squash, broth, milk and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper and greek yogurt. (My greek yogurt was expired-oops... so I made a last minute substitution and used mascarpone cheese instead. ) Remove the center of blender lid (so steam can escape); secure lid on blender, then cover the opening with a towel. Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture into a bowl; stir in gruyere, romano, and 2 tablespoons parmesan, stir until combined.
Cook pasta according to package, drain well. Add to squash mixture and stir to combine. Spread mixture evenly in a 13x9 baking dish (I used a 9" round ceramic dish instead- worked out fine) coated with cooking spray.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in remaining parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley.
This stuff is seriously so good. The butternut squash is not obvious when you eat it; it just adds a richness and a hint of sweetness. Yum.