You’ll find the full recipe below. Here’s what you should know about the key ingredients before you head to the store.
Roast your squash in advance and this recipe comes together quickly. You can roast it a day before or earlier in the day—simply let it cool, then cover and refrigerate it for later.
Roast a large squash, and you’ll have twice as much squash as you need for this recipe. Freeze the other half for a future batch of mac and cheese! This recipe is flexible—use anywhere from one to two cups of mashed butternut squash per batch. (The recipe specifies two cups for max veggie power, but you certainly can use less.)
We’ll simply cut the squash in half and roast it until tender. Then peel off the skin, mash up the squash that you need, and drop it into the boiling water. Any little lumps will work themselves out while the pasta cooks. It’s like magic.
In a hurry? You can use one 15-ounce can of puréed butternut squash in place of the roasted squash. If you have a leftover can of pumpkin purée (not pie filling), that would work, too.
Again, this recipe is flexible and I’ve used a variety of pasta noodle shapes with success. My favorite, which you’ll see in the photos, is pipe rigate. Other options include macaroni noodles, casarecce, cavatelli, fusilli, and the like. To make this recipe gluten free, we successfully used Jovial brand’s brown rice-based fusilli.
Tip: “Short-cut” pasta refers to compact noodle shapes, as opposed to long strands like spaghetti.
No béchamel required for this mac and cheese. Cream cheese stirs right into the pot and makes this pasta creamy, lightly tangy, and luxurious. You’ll use half of a standard block of cream cheese for this recipe, and I don’t know about you, but I’m always glad to have some extra cream cheese on hand for my toast.
Cheddar Cheese and Parmesan
Use a flavorful cheddar cheese for this mac and cheese. My favorite is Kerrygold, which annoyingly comes in a 7-ounce package rather than an even 8-ounce, but 7 ounces will do!
Parmesan cheese further amps up the flavor. Dust your individual servings with a little more Parmesan, if you’d like.
Tip: Grate your own cheese rather than buying pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in powder that can cause the cheese to clump when it melts.
A Few More Basic Ingredients
You’ll also need olive oil (for roasting the squash), butter, garlic and onion powder, water and salt. Easy enough.