Don’t let bright orange mac and cheese land on your kids’ plates—that is, unless the color comes from roasted butternut squash instead of a packet of chemical powder! This creamy, comforting homemade version is made with fresh (or canned organic) squash, half and half and soft goat’s cheese—or you can substitute these ingredients for vegan-friendly ones. Make it a complete meal by adding your family’s favorite chopped veggies.
Serves 4 to 6
1 butternut squash, cut into chunks (about 2-3 cups)
6 to 8 oz. goat cheese
1 cup half and half
¾ to 1 cup chicken stock
1 (16 oz.) pkg. macaroni noodles (or noodles of choice)
1 Tbsp. butter
2 cups breadcrumbs (optional)
Shredded cheese (optional)
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetables (chopped spinach, mushrooms, peas) (optional)
For a vegan variation:
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk (to replace half and half)
3/4 to 1 cup vegetable stock (to replace chicken stock)
Canola oil or olive oil (to replace butter)
Shredded vegan cheese (to replace dairy cheese) (optional)
1. Place squash in pan with small amount of water and roast at 350 degrees F until tender (about 40 minutes).
2. While squash is roasting, boil macaroni, cooking until soft/firm (so it’s just undercooked). Drain and set aside.
3. Place roasted squash in food processor or blender with goat cheese; blend until smooth. Add half and half, chicken stock and salt and pepper to taste; blend well. (Note: For vegan variation, use coconut milk instead of half and half and vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.)
4. If adding vegetables, stir into blended mixture.
5. Pour mixture over macaroni noodles; stir to combine. Pour into 11”x13” greased (with butter or oil of choice) baking pan.
6. If desired, top with breadcrumbs, shredded cheese, parsley and salt and pepper.
7. Bake at 375 degrees F until bubbly.
- For creamier consistency, add additional half and half or coconut milk in step 3.
- If you don’t have time to roast squash, use organic canned squash instead.
- You don’t have to use macaroni noodles! Let your kids pick a shape (ever since my twins were little, it’s been a treat for them to pick out the shape of the pasta I cook.).
- Add a sprinkling of crushed nuts to the breadcrumb topping for added protein.
- If you have leftovers, pack them in an airtight container and store in your freezer.
Dana Zucker is a home cook that likes to do it her way! She gets creative with nutritious ingredients to keep her active family—teenage twins and a vegan, triathlete husband—healthy and happy. Cooking with organic, local and whole food ingredients is key, whether she’s whipping up an early-morning breakfast, prepping afterschool snacks or getting dinner on the table at 10 p.m. Dana says, “We do eat out sometimes, and even cheat with some pre-made foods. But I try to balance making delicious foods with the reality of a busy schedule.” Dana’s recipes are a great starting point to find a style of cooking that works for your family. Her advice? Keep it real—and keep it easy!