Hi. My name’s Kelli and I’m addicted to mac and cheese. Ok, maybe not addicted but it’s certainly a favorite. I’ve posted a few versions of mac and cheese over the years, and this is the first “light” version I’ve tested out, because lesbihonest- when you want mac and cheese you wanna do it right, amiright or amiright? However, I saw this recipe in the last issue of Cooking Light, and decided I wanted to try it. It could have been the gorgeous photo, or the lure of the idea of including butternut squash (one of my favorite wintertime foods) but whatever it was, I decided to give it a try. Also, if you’re hosting guests at all this holiday season, GET THIS MAGAZINE. I usually hunt for recipes on Pinterest, but this issue has just got me drooling over at least half the recipes. I even used one their dressing recipes as a basis for my first time making dressing this year and it turned out great!
I have to say. I’m pleasantly surprised by this lighter version of mac. Even Aaron liked it, and while he’s normally indiferent to my attempts to try to make recipes “lighter”, he told me he liked this one as soon as he had his first bite! #FTW !!!
This recipe is also pretty easy, no Bechemel required. (If you’re not familiar, most mac and cheese recipes start with a Bechemel sauce as a base = butter, flour and cream or hot milk.) If you’ve never made Bechemel before, it can be easy to F up. (If you’re into trying to perfect Roux, Bechemel and other French sauces, I highly recommend Julia Childs :”The Art of French Cooking”. I received this as a gift from my sister one year and it remains on of my favorite cook books.) I’ve linked this book for purchase at the bottom of this post for you guys, as well!
So back to the sauce, it’s super easy and I recommending using FRESHLY grated cheese. I find that freshly grated cheeses always have more moisture and melt much easier than pre-shredded (which contain an anti-clumping ingredient.) As a side note, I’m not sure of any place you can get pre-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, so there’s that.
As a bonus, Cooking Light boasts that this recipe shaves 500 calories and 30g of fat per serving. (Please note that I’m not trying to pawn this recipe off as my own, because it’s not!) I like to use my blog as a recipe book, so next year when I can’t find this magazine, I’ll be able to look it up on my blog and Pinterest board!
- 3 cups peeled butternut squash (about 1 lb.)
- 1 1/2 cups 1% milk
- 1 1/4 c unsalted chicken stock
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 Tbsp. plain, fat free Greek yogurt
- 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
- 4 oz. (about 1 cup) Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 4 oz. (about 1 cup) pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
- 1 oz. Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese, finely grated and divided (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf Parsley
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high: reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes or until squash is tender.
- Carefully place squash mixture in a blender with yogurt, salt and pepper. (Or you can use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth.
- Place squash puree in bowl and stir in Gruyere, Romano and 2 Tbsp Parmigiana-Reggiano.
- Cook pasta according to instructions omitting salt and fat: drain well.
- Add pasta to squash mixture, stirring to combine.
- Spoon pasta into a 9x13" baking dish coated with cooking spray. (I used a greased Lodge Cast Iron skillet).
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium. Add panko; cook 2 minutes or until toasted. Remove pan from heat and stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese.
- Sprinkle panko mixture evenly over pasta and cover with a light dusting of cooking spray.
- Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes or until bubbly.
- Sprinkle chopped parsley over pasta.