Spiced Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is one of the most popular side dishes during Thanksgiving dinner. However, with all the heavy dishes, mac and cheese can cause GI distress for people who struggle with metabolizing fats. This recipe uses roasted butternut squash to make a gooey casserole that will be a crowd-pleaser.
This dish is infused with spices like cumin, coriander, and thyme making this a perfect fall recipe. If you are looking for an easy weeknight week, this recipe is for you. You can prep the squash ahead of time, and put the ingredients together when you are ready to eat. If you are vegan, you can omit the cheese entirely but I love cheese, especially the local gourmet kind. During a recent trip to St George, we stopped by The Creamery in Beaver, Utah. They had a Fiery Jack Cheese, and I instantly knew what to create with it. Their Fiery Jack is a mild Colby Jack cheese infused with Habanero and Jalapeno. This did make for a spicy Mac and Cheese so if you don't like spicy foods, stick to a sharp cheddar.
4.5 C of Butternut Squash (peeled and cubed)
1.5 Tsp of Corriander powder
1.5 Tsp of Cumin powder
2 cloves of Garlic
2 Tbs of Olive Oil or Butter
1 bay leaf
4 Whole Dry Cloves
1 1/2 C of Veggie Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 box of Pasta Shells (8 oz)*
1/2 C of Cheese of your choice*
2 Springs of Thyme
1/2 C of Panko Bread Crumbs
In a skillet or a saucepan, heat oil/butter and add the bay leaf and cloves. Once the spices release their aroma in the oil (this will take about 1-2 minutes) add the garlic, coriander and cumin powder.
Add the butternut squash and close the skillet with a lid. Cook the squash for 5-8 minutes.
Add the broth and continue cooking the squash till it is fork tender. If you chopped the squash into bite sized pieces, this will happen faster.
Let the mixture cool enough to handle. Remove the bay leaf, cloves and discard them.
Transfer the squash mixture to a high speed blender and blend into a smooth sauce.
Preheat the oven to 400 F
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. The pasta should be a la dente.
To a casserole dish, add the pasta, the butternut squash sauce, cheese, and thyme leaves. Add enough sauce to coat all the pasta. Mix everything without breaking the shells.
Top with more cheese and Panko bread crumbs.
Bake for 15 minutes or until you get a nice brown crust.
*There is enough spice in the butternut squash sauce so if you don't like heat, use a sharp cheddar cheese.
*I like using Banza pasta for added protein but you can use any pasta of your choice. If you have extra sauce leftover, you can freeze it for 1-2 months.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you make any of my Thanksgiving recipes, make sure to share tag me and share on Instagram.