Creamy LIGHT Mac & Cheese

Zack’s mom saw this recipe in one of those health-food/lifestyle magazines and knew that I enjoyed trying to make common foods healthier, so she shared it with me.

Let me just say, this was the most expensive dish I’ve possibly ever made.  The cheese alone was over $20.  I’m not one to splurge normally (I buy store brand stuff whenever possible), but I really like macaroni and cheese, so I decided to give this a try.

The reason it’s healthier is the main ingredient – butternut squash.  Before this dish, I had never even touched a butternut squash!  They are so oddly shaped that I tended to avoid them.

This mac & cheese is also pretty labor intensive.  There’s a bunch of steps that you have to follow and it ends up being really time consuming.

The bottom line is – although this mac & cheese was pretty good (not great), I probably would not make it again.  Give me the occasional splurge on regular, unhealthy macaroni and cheese.

I do have to say, this dish turned out quite pretty and if you didn’t know it was made with squash, you wouldn’t be able to guess.

Creamy LIGHT Mac & Cheese

– 3 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 1 1-lb squash)

– 1 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth

– 1 1/2 cups fat free milk

– 2 garlic cloves

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

– 2 tablespoons fat free Greek yogurt

– 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

– 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

– 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiane cheese, divided

– 1 lb uncooked whole wheat pasta

– 1/2 cup Panko

– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

– 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place the hot squash mixture in a blender.  Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt.  Remove the centerpiece of the blender (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Blend until smooth.  Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiane.  Stir until combined.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt; drain well.  Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined.  Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Sprinkle evenly over the pasta mixture.  Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly.  Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.