There’s something very comforting about macaroni and cheese. Maybe it’s the excessive amount of cheese that bubbles up all the way from the bottom of the dish or the thin crust that forms after twenty minutes in the oven. It could be the creamy sauce that coats each and every macaroni or the fact that every bite bursts with flavor. Whatever it is, offer a plate of macaroni and cheese to a five-year-old boy or to his grandmother, and I can almost assure you that neither of them would refuse it.
Macaroni and cheese lends itself for many variations. Add a different kind of cheese and you have yourself another dinner; sprinkle bread crumbs on top and up the crunchiness factor; or simply add your favorite spice before popping it in the oven. That is the beauty of it: macaroni and cheese can be both gourmet and fast food.
This recipe incorporates the flavors of four cheeses and three spices with a seasonal vegetable. The butternut squash gives the traditional macaroni and cheese a sweet punch that leaves your taste buds delighted.
Butternut Squash Goat Cheese Macaroni & Cheese (adapted from Munchin with Munchkin)
- 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup macaroni
- 2 tablespoons half and half
- 2 tablespoons butter, + 1 tablespoon melted
- ½ medium yellow onion, grated
- 1 ½ tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 ½ teaspoons thyme
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons goat cheese
- 4 teaspoons mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°. Toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss on a cookie sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- Meanwhile, cook macaroni according to box instructions. Drain and let cool.
- Spray a 9 by 5 inch glass dish with cooking spray and set aside. When squash is finished cooking, blend with half and half until smooth (use a food processor if you have one).
- Preheat oven to 375°. Over medium heat, melt butter in a large saucepan. Sautee onions for about 2 minutes. Stir in flour until mixture is smooth. Slowly whisk in milk and water and stir until liquid thickens slightly.
- Add squash mixture and stir to combine. Sprinkle spices and lime juice. Mix in Parmesan and sharp cheddar cheeses and stir to combine. Whisk in goat cheese slowly until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix in macaroni and make sure it is well-coated. Pour mixture into dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
- In a separate dish, combine melted butter and breadcrumbs. Spread bread crumbs over macaroni and cheese. Cover dish with aluminum foil and cook for ten minutes or until boiling from the bottom. Uncover dish and cook for 2 more minutes or until bread is slightly browned.