Try my scrumptious Roasted Squash Mac and Cheese recipe. Give this classic comfort food a seasonal and healthy twist. Whether you use butternut or another variety of squash, it’s incredibly easy to make and tastes absolutely fantastic!
Choosing the Perfect Squash for Your Autumn Mac and Cheese Delight
Here is a list of squash varieties that work very well in this dish:
- Butternut Squash: This is a popular choice due to its sweet, nutty flavor and smooth texture when cooked. It blends well into a puree and pairs nicely with the creamy cheese sauce.
- Acorn Squash: Slightly less sweet than butternut, acorn squash has a tender, yet slightly fibrous texture. It adds a beautiful color and a more subtle squash flavor.
- Kabocha Squash: Also known as Japanese pumpkin, kabocha is sweeter than butternut. It has a rich, earthy flavor and a fluffy texture, which makes it a delightful addition to the dish.
- Delicata Squash: This variety is smaller and easier to handle. It has a creamy texture and a corn-like sweet flavor. Delicata squash’s thinner skin is also edible, though for this recipe, you’d typically remove the skin after roasting.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Choosing Cheese for Squash Mac and Cheese
For the Roasted Squash Mac and Cheese recipe, selecting the right cheese can significantly enhance the flavor and texture of the dish. Here are some excellent cheese options that pair well with the sweet, earthy notes of the squash:
- Mature Cheddar – A classic choice for mac and cheese, sharp cheddar adds a depth of flavor with its distinct tangy and slightly earthy taste. It melts well, making it ideal for a creamy sauce.
- Gruyère – This cheese offers a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. It melts beautifully, creating a smooth and velvety sauce, and complements the squash nicely.
- Parmesan – Grate some Parmesan into the mix for a more intense flavor. Its salty and slightly fruity taste adds a nice contrast to the sweetness of the squash.
- Monterey Jack – With its mild flavor and excellent melting properties, Monterey Jack can be a good base cheese, especially when mixed with sharper varieties like cheddar.
- Blue Cheese – For a bold, tangy flavor, crumble some blue cheese on top. It’s perfect for those who love a stronger cheese taste in their mac and cheese.
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The Key to Perfect Mac and Cheese: Béchamel Sauce
Béchamel sauce is the perfect base for delicious Mac and Cheese. Maintain a 1:1 ratio of flour to butter. Incorporate your favorite cheddar cheese and finish with cream for extra creaminess. Mustard is optional and can be added according to your preference. Season with nutmeg and black pepper to taste. For an additional layer of flavor, consider a pinch of smoked paprika or cayenne pepper.
Recipe Card for Roasted Squash Mac and Cheese:
Roasted Squash Mac and Cheese
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- ½ Butternut squash - skin on, seeds removed, cut into four pieces
- 2 cups Macaroni pasta - (250g) cooked as per packet instructions
- 3½ tbsp Butter - (50g) Butter
- 6 tbsp All-purpose flour - (50g)
- 2 cups Milk - (500ml)
- 2 cups Mature cheddar cheese - (200g)
- ½ cup Single cream - (100ml)
- 1 tsp Sweet mustard
- 1 tsp Lemon juice
- 1 pinch Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Salt - You can adjust at the end to your preference
- ½ tsp Black pepper
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil - For roasting the squash
- Preheat your oven to 240C (470F)
- Rub the squash pieces with vegetable oil. Place them skin side down on a parchment-lined tray and roast for about 20 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, melt 3½ tablespoons of butter. Add 6 tablespoons of flour and cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring to form a smooth roux. Gradually whisk in 2 cups of milk until thickened.
- Stir in 1 cup of grated cheddar until melted. Mix in the cream, lemon juice, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt if needed. Set aside.
- Once the squash is baked, reduce the oven temperature to 200C (400F). Separate the flesh from the skin and blend it into a smooth puree (add a tbsp of water if needed).
- Mix about ½ to ⅔ cups of squash puree into the bechamel sauce. Combine with the cooked macaroni and transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish or few smaller dishes. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan. Add the breadcrumbs and pumpkin seeds, and toast until golden, stirring continuously.
- Sprinkle the crunchy topping over the baked mac and cheese. Garnish with fresh parsley or thyme for a pop of color and fresh flavor.
- Hand masher – If you don’t have a food processor, no worries! You can easily use a hand masher instead to blend the roasted squash. Simply scoop the cooked squash flesh into a bowl and mash it until smooth. This method gives you control over the texture, ensuring your squash puree is perfect for your Mac and Cheese.
Few words from Chef
Thank you for visiting my culinary blog and exploring my delectable Roasted Squash Mac and Cheese recipe! I appreciate your interest in this cozy and comforting dish, perfect for any season.