Ever since the delicious outcome of putting butternut squash in broccoli cheese soup, I’ve been trying to combine cheese and squash as often as possible. Macaroni and cheese is usually a fatty, calorie dense food with little actual substance – but too delicious to resist. Using squash in the base of the soup adds a touch of sweetness and a boost of nutrition. Broccoli helps bulk up the macaroni, plus I just think it’s delicious covered in cheese sauce.
I put my mac and cheese in a wide, shallow casserole dish because I like a high ratio of crispy topping to actual noodles, but feel free to use a smaller, deeper dish. The texture of these noodles and sauce is oddly reminiscent of Stouffer’s mac and cheese or even KFC, but the taste is a million times better and it’s, of course, healthier.
1 c uncooked macaroni (whole wheat or gluten free)
2 c fresh broccoli florets
12 oz frozen butternut squash puree, thawed (can use microwave)
½ c fat free cottage cheese
⅓ c fat free sour cream
5 oz reduced fat sharp cheddar (block is best)
¼ tsp garlic powder
splash milk, if needed
Optional topping: dash garlic, ½ c panko breadcrumbs, ⅓ c grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 350° and prepare casserole dish by spritzing with nonstick spray.
Cook macaroni according to package instructions and steam broccoli to desired level of cripsness.
Meanwhile, combine squash pure, cottage cheese, sour cream, cheddar (chopped into cubes, if using block), nutmeg, and garlic. Bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until cheese is melted. Add a splash of milk, if needed, to provide a smooth consistency.
Drain pasta and add along with broccoli to cheese sauce. Mix well and pour into casserole dish.
Mix together optional topping and pour over mixture, spritz with nonstick spray to encourage browning.
Bake for 15 minutes, until cheese starts to bubble. Switch to broil to brown and crisp topping.