Healthier Mac and Cheese


Many people lament the drift towards Autumn and the monotony of bright orange carrots, pumpkins and winter squash. And of course, as many apples as you like. Personally I love the bounty of this season. You can make just as many savoury dishes with these ingredients as you can sweet. The recipe below is a savoury staple for me. As the temperature cools and we are enveloped in ever more darkness, comfort food calls. For me, nothing says comfort food like macaroni cheese. This is the ultimate autumnal version, loaded with lots of roasted squash, which cleverly disappears into a cheese sauce. For fussier eaters, nobody even need know! The hue of the squash matches perfectly with lots of Red Leicester. As well as adding a lovely and subtle sweetness to an otherwise stodgy dish, the squash also adds nutritional integrity. It is an extremely good source of beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A in the body, excellent for healthy skin. It also provides a good source of potassium as well as vitamins C and E. Make the most of the season and bake this simple dish for the whole family. Serve with a leafy green salad.

Notes: You could even double or treble the recipe, and stash a casserole dish or two in the freezer for the upcoming months.

Serves 3-4


1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped (or 400g ready prepared butternut squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
350g elbow macaroni (or whichever shape you prefer)
400ml milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
150-200g grated sharp cheddar
45g panko breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 400 Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the squash on a large baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the rosemary.
  4. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender, turning half way through.
  5. While the squash is roasting, cook the pasta according to the instructions. Drain and set aside.
  6. Puree the roasted squash in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add 100ml of milk to the squash and puree even further.
  7. In a saucepan on a medium heat, add the butter. When it has melted, add the flour. Whisk it together, then add the nutmeg. Whisk for a further 2 minutes, until the mixture smells nutty. Add the remaining milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking as it heats up.
  9. Once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat down low and add the butternut puree along with a handful of the cheese.
  10. Once the cheese has melted into the sauce, add the cooked macaroni to the sauce and stir to coat all the pasta thoroughly.
  11. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Transfer the macaroni to a lightly greased casserole dish.
  13. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and then top with the breadcrumbs.
  14. Place the dish in the oven for 20 minutes, until the cheese is browning and the macaroni is bubbling.
  15. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.


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