Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

I love me some mac & cheese, but I always feel like it’s an indulgent food that shouldn't be enjoyed too often. However, once I introduced whole wheat pasta and butternut squash, I feel much better about eating it now. Plus, my kids went crazy over this and comments like “Mom - this is so awesome!!” and “Mom, this is the best mac & cheese I have ever had!!” made me highly motivated to create it again and share with you. Roast the butternut squash, onion and garlic ahead of time to make for a quick weeknight meal. This goes great with a quick cooked sausage or steak, but can also be enough to serve alone.

Ingredients

(1) Butternut squash, cut in half and seeds removed (1) large sweet onion, peeled and cut in half (1) whole garlic clove with the top cut off (6) sprigs of fresh basil (1) package whole wheat penne pasta (2) tbsp butter (2) tbsp flour (1) cup chicken stock (2) cups reserved pasta cooking water (3) cups mozzarella

Nutritional information

No nutrition information available

Instructions

Drizzle the butternut squash, onion and whole garlic clove with olive oil, salt and pepper. Rub it around for full coverage. Put the two onion halves on a foil lined baking sheet, then place the butternut squash upside down (skin side up) with the onion halves hidden under the cavities of the squash where the seeds were. Put the garlic clove in between the squash so the cut side stays up. Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes, or until the skin of the squash has browned nicely. Start a pot of salted water to cook the pasta. Cook the pasta according to instructions, but be sure to save (2) cups of the cooking liquid once it’s done. Scoop out the butternut squash from the skin and add to your Cuisinart food processor with the onion, garlic and fresh basil (may need to be done in two batches depending on blender). Blend until very smooth. Now we start the roux. Add the butter to a medium size sauce pan. Once melted, stir in the flour and allow it to cook out for about five minutes. Add in the chicken stock and reserved pasta water. Mix together then add in the butternut squash puree. In a 9 x 12 baking dish, drizzle olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Pour in the cooked pasta, season with salt and pepper then stir around to incorporate the ingredients. Pour the butternut squash roux over the pasta and gently mix. Top the pasta with the mozzarella cheese and gently move the pasta around to allow the cheese to get into pasta. Bake pasta at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top starts to brown. Allow to cool slightly then serve and please the crowd!