Macaroni and Cheese is a favorite comfort food anytime of the year. However, during the fall, when squash is readily available, I add roasted butternut squash for a delicately creamy texture and a boost of veggies.
The smooth sauce is so luscious, especially when you are craving comfort food and the flavors are quite spectacular too. You can make this a day ahead and bake it when you are ready to serve and this the leftovers reheat nicely in the microwave, for quick lunches or additional nighttime meals. Also, it makes a great casserole to bring to buffets or holiday parties.
1/2 butternut squash, seeds removed
1 pound small dried Rigatoni noodles
1 pound jack cheese
6 ounces parmesan cheese, divided
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
5 tablespoons butter + more for dish
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place butternut squash on a sheet pan and rub with oil. Roast for 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Cool and scoop out roasted pulp and puree in a food processor. In a large pot, boil the rigatoni for 10 minutes, drain and reserve. Butter a large 4 quart casserole dish and set aside. Grate the jack cheese and parmesan cheese. Remove the goat cheese from any packaging.
2. In a dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter and flour. Stir until the butter is melted and the mixture becomes a light roux, about 3 minutes. Add the milk, half & half and cream and continue to stir until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the butternut squash puree and continue to stir.
3. Add half the jack cheese and parmesan to the bechamel sauce and all of the goat cheese. Turn the heat to low and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir. Pour in the cooked rigatoni and toss to coat the noodles. Pour the macaroni & cheese into the prepared pan.
4. Top the Macaroni & Cheese with the remaining cheeses and place in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbly lightly.
5. Remove the Macaroni & Cheese with Cheesy Butternut Squash Bechamel from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!