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Friday, 11 November 2011

'Guiltless' Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe is inspired by Cooking Light Magazine. It is quite simply, delicious and lessens the guilt-factor when you dig in for a second helping. Butternut squash is used to create a creamy base, instead of a rich b├ęchamel traditionally thickened with butter and flour. The interesting thing that I learned when preparing this recipe is that one can get ‘AHHH...butternut squash hands!!!’ this is what I refer to as hands, that get dry, tight, and are covered with a yellowish residue no easier to remove than dried cement. The internet described this as the squash's ‘self defense mechanism’ self defense, from who? What me?!? I just want to eat the delicious thing… Anyway, the squash exudes a sap when it is wounded to dry out the exposed flesh and seal it off to prevent further infection or damage, for example if it was attacked by some critter in the squash patch. So, note to ‘selves please wear some gloves when you peel and cut your butternuts to avoid ‘AHHH…butternut squash hands!!!’

Serves 8…but really 4-6

3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
1 ½ cups 1% milk
3 cloves garlic peeled
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound pasta (Cavatappi or Rotini work well)
1 tsp olive oil + more for drizzling
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, bring large pot of salted water to boil and grease a 9x13" baking dish.
Combine squash, broth, milk and garlic in a pot and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to mid-low heat and simmer until squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Next place the hot squash mixture in a blender (will have to do in 2 batches) and blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture into a bowl and stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg and Greek yogurt. Then stir in Gruyere and pecorino Romano. Set aside.

Add pasta to water. While pasta is cooking, add 1 tsp olive oil to pan on medium heat then add breadcrumbs and cook until breadcrumbs are golden, remove from heat and set aside.

Once pasta is cooked, drain and stir into reserved squash and cheese sauce. Pour entire mixture into baking dish and sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Bake for 18-20 minutes until bubbling.

Serve as is, or with a shot of hot sauce or spicy peppers!


  1. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

  2. Glad you tried the recipe. I have also been known on occasion to eat this for breakfast.