Butternut Squash Is The Rich Fall Vegetable Your Mac And Cheese Needs

Once the leaves change color, foodies are all about squash. If you've been looking for an excuse to swing by your local farmers market, look no further than butternut squash mac and cheese. In the spirit of the season, this elevated comfort classic food totes a golden-orange hue with a rich creamy sauce. It takes a childhood favorite and makes it heartier, more sophisticated, and packed with autumnal flavor. Plus, it's a killer way to get picky eaters to incorporate a little extra veggies into their diet.

To make it, puree your squash with an immersion blender or food processor, and then incorporate the puree into your regular mac and cheese recipe. Opt for a strong enough cheese to hold up to the squash without overpowering it. Sharp cheddar, white cheddar, parmesan, or salty-nutty fontina would all make good options. As an added bonus, this recipe is also fairly easy to transition into a vegan-friendly dish by swapping in non-dairy alternatives or a cashew cheese sauce. Thicker options like soy milk or full-fat oat milk would make fitting dairy substitutes.

Back and butter than ever

Perhaps the best part of this dish is its potential for customization. Roasted golden-brown breadcrumbs, fresh rosemary sprigs, thyme, sage, cracked black or white pepper, and yellow onions would make great toppings and mix-ins. You could add a sprinkle of nutmeg for depth or Old Bay for a little bite. Plain Greek yogurt would add tang and a denser, creamier mouthfeel, or bulk the dish up even more with ground fennel sausage. You could even roast your butternut squash in maple syrup for added mouth-watering sweet-savory flair. Feel free to try out different pasta shapes here, too. We recommend classic elbow macaroni, but rigatoni, gemelli, or pipette would all be delicious as well.

This sweet-and-savory dish may be impressive, but it's all about convenience. You can use fresh or frozen butternut squash, making this a staple dish year-round. Plus the leftovers hold up well in the fridge for reheating. To complete the meal, pair your butternut squash mac and cheese with roasted asparagus (double hit of veggies) and a medium-bodied wine like Cabernet Franc or Chardonnay. For a kid-approved dinner, try pairing this mac with dinosaur-shaped nuggets and steamed broccoli.