Macaroni and Cheese is a favorite comfort food anytime of the year. However during the holidays, it tends to take center stage on many tables. Most families have their favorite way of creating an outstanding cheesy sauce, but this time around I recommend adding some butternut squash to the sauce for a slight sweetness and an extra boost of vegetables.
It’s very simple to create this recipe because it’s done like a traditional macaroni and cheese, except you add roasted butternut squash to sauce right before the rigatoni is added. This wintertime gourd creates a very smooth and luxurious texture that will please any palate, and leave you coming back for another spoonful. I find it the perfect accompaniment to any holiday roast, turkey or ham and it also makes a nice vegetarian option for the non-meat eaters at your table. You can make this a day ahead and bake it when you are almost ready to serve dinner, and the leftovers reheat nicely in the microwave, if there are any left the next day.
1/2 butternut squash, seeds removed
1 pound medium 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 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 rigatoni for 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Butter a large 4-quart casserole dish, set aside. Grate jack cheese and parmesan cheese. Remove goat cheese from any packaging.
2. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, add butter and flour. Stir until butter is melted and mixture becomes light golden colored, about 3 minutes. Add milk, half & half, and cream and continue to stir until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add butternut squash puree and continue to stir.
3. Add half jack cheese and parmesan to béchamel sauce and all of goat cheese. Turn heat to low and add salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir. Add cooked rigatoni and toss to coat noodles. Spoon into prepared pan.
4. Top Macaroni and Cheese with remaining cheeses and place in oven to bake for 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and sides are bubbly lightly. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!