Butternut squash macaroni and cheese is definitely a unique combination but the result is fabulous.
There is a bit of a story for how this recipe for butternut squash macaroni and cheese came about
Last fall I was invited by the folks with Share Our Strength to attend one of the ‘Cooking Matters‘ events they hold on a regular basis that helps middle school kids in low income families with nutrition information as well as hands on cooking classes.
The event I went to had myself and others helping the kids that evening with cutting and cooking and everyone received a sample of the finished dish as well as a set of identical products to bring home so that we could re-create the dishes in our own kitchens.
I never got that dish done; if I’m completely honest I did not find it very appealing which made me also feel a bit guilty. The truth is I’m privileged that I can buy the products I want at the grocery store and am not reliant on government allocations for my foodstuffs.
This recipe is another in a series that has been provided to me by the folks with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
I’m partnering with them to make several of their recipes for #Waunstrong Wednesday, my effort to prepare recipes for my daughter Lauren who is undergoing cancer treatment. Their recipes are geared to be nutritious for their patients but I’ve also found them to be absolutely delicious and this was no exception.
Roasted butternut squash is blended with a melted cheese sauce that is used to dress pasta. I decided to sprinkle some toasted and buttered panko bread crumbs on top of the finished dish; that little bit of crunch made it perfection.
Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
For the Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 cups small pasta shells, elbow or piccolini
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ cup butternut squash puree see Notes
- 1-½ cup monterey jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
For the Panko Crumb topping
- ½ cup panko
- 1 teaspoon butter
- Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta
- Once boiling, add pasta and cook until pasta is tender (about 7-10 minutes)
- Drain pasta when finished and set aside.
- Melt butter over medium low heat in a saucepan and add the flour
- Whisk and cook for 2 minutes – it will resemble a paste
- Slowly add milk
- Whisk until combined; add remaining ingredients up to butter and stir until combined
- Add sauce to the pasta and stir.
- Sprinkle with the toasted panko crumbs and serve.
To Make the Topping
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet; add panko and cook over medium heat until lightly browned. Set aside.
Lauren Update: Lauren had her first chemo treatment last week and it was a tough week. She had a port installed under her collarbone on Friday that will be where the cocktails are administered and I don’t think four days was enough time after surgery to start chemo so she definitely had a double whammy.
We also went wig shopping and she found one she loves. Not long but more of a short bob and her exact hair color.
As hard as those trips are, I think doing them before they are necessary helps acclimate all of us to the reality; hair loss will be hard.
Knowing she looks great in cute wig makes that eventuality a bit easier to face. She’s feeling better this week and actually stayed in her own apartment for the first time since learning she has breast cancer.
That’s huge…she’s a very independent young woman and though all of her family welcomed her back home with open arms, that step was one she wanted to make and I’m glad she did. Her friends have been fantastic…keep up the good work kids!