For My Nutty Husband – Butternutty Mac and Cheese

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In my opinion, there are some foods that are so similar, that it only stands to reason – if you like one, chances are you are gonna like the other.

Like lobster and shrimp. Apples and pears. One shape of pasta or another shape of pasta. Sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

But not my husband, oh no. He loves him some lobster, but shrimp must be fried or masked in a lemony, buttery sauce. He’ll happily eat an apple slice with a hunk of cheddar cheese, but the crisp and lovely pear slices on the same platter will go ignored. He adores pasta, but if I make fusilli, he will push it around in his bowl until inquiring “Why didn’t you make farfalle?” And last but not least, while the man has grown to love nearly every pie, mash, soup or stew you can make out of a sweet potato, he recoils in disgust at the mere mention of eating butternut squash.

Until now…

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Kitty’s Butternutty Mac & Cheese

1/2 pound pasta w/ ridges, like penne, cavatappi, etc…
extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed & chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 -3 dashes hot pepper sauce
1 package frozen cooked/pureed butternut squash, or winter squash, defrosted & drained
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 & 1/2 cups lowfat milk
1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated or cubed (plus more for topping)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
freshly grated nutmeg
kosher salt and white pepper
2 -3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375F. Set a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook the pasta for 4 -5 minutes less than the package directs you to. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot you cooked it in.

Step 2: Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and thyme, and cook until onions are soft and fragrant. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes, then whisk in the chicken stock. Add the defrosted squash until warmed (whisk until it is smooth, it will look like an orange paste)

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Step 3: Whisk in the milk, along with the pepper sauce, mustard, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Allow the sauce to begin to bubble (that’s what will make it thicken!)

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Step 4: Add the cheeses to the mixture, and stir until smooth.

Step 4: Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta, and stir to incorporate. If using a tubular pasta, make sure to stir very well so the sauce gets into the holes of the pasta.

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Step 5: Transfer to a greased baking dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle over the pasta. Dot the top with the remaining cheddar cheese.

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Step 6: Bake for 20 minutes.

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Winter squashes, like acorn, butternut or buttercup are all excellent sources of Vitamin A (beta-carotene). What does beta-carotene do for our bodies, you ask? Well, how’s this for multi-tasking: Beta-carotene’s antioxidant AND anti-inflamatory properties help to prevent heart attacks and strokes, protect colon cells from cancer, and reduce the severity of conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Cigarette smokers may benefit most from a diet rich in vitamin A – as one of the common carcinogens found in cigarette smoke actually induces vitamin A deficiency. Here’s a little story for you: A professor of nutrition at Kansas State University fed rats a vitamin A deprived diet. They got emphysema. He gave them vitamin A again. It reduced the effects of their emphysema.

Eat your veggies!!!

My husband ate this dish happily. “Is there something in this that I don’t like?” he asked. “I don’t know”, I said “is there?” When he was done, I told him it had been butternut squash he just enjoyed. “Well, I like butternut squash, don’t I?”

Now you do, baby. Now you do.

On our official veggie fake-out broccoli head rating scale, I give this recipe for Butternutty Mac & Cheese 7 out of 10 heads of broccoli.

 

25 comments to For My Nutty Husband – Butternutty Mac and Cheese

  • Holy cow! As I read this my first thought was, “Is my husband married to another person in addition to me?” My husband is the same way, he won’t eat spaghetti/linguine/angel hair pasta, but he’ll gladly eat penne or rotini. He loves sweet potatoes and despises butternut squash. I’ve finally come up with a way to prepare acorn squash that he’ll eat, even while knowing full well what he is eating. I recently made macaroni and cheese with butternut squash puree in it and he had no idea. I was going to post about this trick on my blog soon.

    This is just too funny how similar to my household it sounds!

  • JenniB

    That seriously looks like the best thing ever made!

  • Julie D

    Oh wow – I want to eat that, NOW! Lol!

    Was it sweeter than a typical mac and cheese?

  • That looks out of this world!

  • DocChuck

    Super post!!

    My wife and I both love winter squash. All kinds of winter squash. But, the butternut is our very favorite (we go through at least two every week).

    PLUS, being born and raised in the genteel South, we have always felt that Mac and Cheese was the ultimate comfort food (well, maybe next to fried chicken and watermelon).

    So your idea of Butternutty Mac and Cheese is a special “gift” for people like us.

    Your recipe and photos have been carefully copied and added to our reciipe collection.

    Thanks a million for sharing.

  • Technical question: How many cups/pounds in a “package” of frozen squash? I have a fresh one but don’t know how much of it to use.

  • Thanks everyone!

    Julie: It was a touch sweet, but the onion, hot sauce, and mustard downplay that.

    Doc: I am curious to hear how this recipe stacks up to tried and true southern recipes.

    Liz: 12 ounces! but I did end up draining a good deal of water out of it.

  • That is the most amazing mac n cheese I have ever seen! Looks delicious – thanks for sharing!!

  • i made this tonight and it was amazing. i used 1 fresh acorn squash instead because the grocer had no butternut, and had to double the recipe because i had so much more squash than your recipe called for. i threw some gouda into the sauce, and used panko and it’s awesome! loved the mustard. i had to force myself to not have thirds, nevermind seconds.

  • Erin,

    Gouda sounds fantastic. I wonder if smoked gouda would be good? I was going to try panko too, but I realized I only had the kind in my cabinet that had msg in them…I just couldnt do it! Into the trash they went.

  • Here is a link to the butternut squash/mac & cheese I made recently:
    http://glossyveneer.com/2007/12/13/deceptive-mac-cheese/

    It’s just a simple stovetop version that comes together really easily!

  • This sounds wonderful! Very cool idea – very innovative! :)

  • MrsDocChuck

    This is a perfect recipe for those with no teeth, like my husband. Thanks!

  • Carly

    Hey, how many people does this feed?

  • Carly,

    its a 1/2 pound of pasta, so that would feed 2 -3 people as a full meal, and make about 6 side dish servings.

  • Carly

    Cool! So if I wanted to feed say 6-7 people as a full size, should I just double the pasta or double everything else.

  • If you want twice as much food you should double the entire recipe. You may have to bake it a bit longer than 20 minutes at the end. Try 25 – 30 minutes and see how that works out. Make sure you use a really big saute pan, cause thats gonna be a lot of pasta!

    Hope you like it!

  • Keight

    Made it last night. YUM!

    Once I get over expecting it to taste like it looks (which is, bright orange like my favorite chemically created food product, Velveeta) it is so delicious! And, reduced in cheese compared with original mac! Yay! My husband liked it too!

    My notes are, don’t be lazy like me – drain your squash. Mine had lots of water which made for watery sauce which necessitated extra cheese. And don’t mind that when the sauce is cooking, it smells EXTREMELY mustard-y, to the point that I was afraid I had measured wrong. It doesn’t taste overly mustardy. I promise.

    Hilariously, my husband is the opposite of yours. I wouldn’t tell him what was in this until he tasted it, then I answered butternut squash. He said “good, because if it was sweet potatoes I’d be barfing everywhere.” Ha. What the? They taste almost the SAME! “No they don’t! Butternut squash doesn’t make me GAG!”

    Oh, husbands. They are silly.

  • Keight:

    husbands are hysterical – a never ending supply of amusement.

    Yes, I should have clairfied about draining the frozen squash, I will edit that in the post.

    glad you liked it!

  • Margaret

    Is there a way to print out the recipe only , without pictures and extra comments? Sorry I am technically challenged! It looks like a good recipe.

  • Margaret,

    sorry, food blogs don’t really offer that kind of feature the way a pro recipe site does!

  • lilmaple

    I made this today and it turned out………”FANTASTIC!” that was the word came out my husband lips. Thank you very much Kitty for this fab recipe. I did add turkey bacon in the recipe, because my husband will still be looking for some kind of meat in a dish hahahaha

  • lilmaple

    Just wanted to ask your permission, since everything is gorgeous, May I just copy paste what this recipe and the pictures to my blog? I will of course put your website link and give credit to you. Thank you and waiting for your confirmation

  • Andrea

    I make something similar (using any orange squash, sweet potato or pumpkin…all delicious, just different).

    Now you just need to finagle around by adding a puree of tofu…trust me…and you can kick up the protein a bit at the same time. Start slow but seriously, tofu puree makes the silkiest, creamiest mac and cheese. I trick everyone with it!

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Hi there, and thanks for joining me! I'm Kitty and I would love to hear your suggestions on how to get my husband to eat his vegetables. Drop me a line at myhusbandhatesveggies @yahoo(dot)com