My Favorite Quick Mac and Cheese with Squash
My kids love macaroni and cheese, and they hate Kraft Dinner. Luckily, they have a mom who likes to cook – and I have been whipping this mac and cheese up for them for years now. It’s so easy, even though you might think that homemade mac and cheese sounds hard. My husband and kids love it so much, as I was taking the pictures for this post, they were actually badgering me for a taste. I had to hold them off long enough to photograph the food and then they attacked it!
The longest part of this recipe is boiling the pasta, so just allow for that. If you have plain pasta in your fridge, this is how you should use it.
I usually make a huge pot of this recipe and freeze most of it so we can reheat it quickly on busy weeknights. If not, I usually just make it from scratch, making the cheese sauce while the pasta is boiling. From grating the cheese to whisking the sauce, the whole thing is done by the time the pasta is ready to be drained, about 2o minutes.
I use whole wheat pasta and whole wheat flour in the roux. Sometimes, I put peas in it instead of squash. Actually I was going to do that today but when I went to get the peas out of the freezer, the bag was in there and empty. I’m pretty sure my husband made them for the kids and put the empty bag back in the freezer in typical fashion! He’s lucky he’s cute!
Anyways, just like most of my recipes, adjust this to how you like it. Use whatever type of cheese you have in the house – I usually use the dead ends of everything – gouda, cheddar, Havarti…you really can’t screw this up. 4 cups sounds like a lot but really, it’s not.
This recipe makes 6-8 servings
500g whole wheat pasta – I use rotini
4 cups grated cheese
2 cups milk
¼ cup butter
2.5 tablespoons of flour – I use all purpose whole wheat
1 cup mashed squash – I use buttercup or butternut, whatever you have works, if you don’t have squash or don’t want it, use peas, use nothing, whatever
Put the pasta on to boil.
On a medium flame, melt the butter in a medium pot. When it starts to bubble, add the flour and mix vigorously with a whisk or a fork until you have a roux (a thick mixture of flour and butter that is the base of a cream sauce).
Add the milk and turn the heat up a bit, whisking until the mixture thickens.
Take the mixture off the heat and add the cheese and the squash, whisking until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth. If you use peas, steam them lightly first and add them at this time. If you don’t take the sauce off the heat, you can end up with grainy cheese sauce. If the cheese isn’t melting all the way, put the heat back on but turn it way down to finish.
When the pasta is done, drain it well and put it back into the pot it was boiled in. Pour the cheese sauce onto the pasta and mix well. There’s a lot of sauce in this recipe but in a few minutes, the pasta will absorb a lot of it.
Done. Wasn’t that easy? No more Kraft Dinner!
This recipe freezes like a dream.