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Monday, 5 January 2015

Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook: Butternut Squash Mac And Cheese

Cheesy but healthy
So, this is the first of my themed posts, Don't Say Never Trust A Skinny Cook, that showcase healthier meals. I'm rarely on a diet as such, because I've learnt that I'm never going to be supermodel skinny, and nor do I want to be, but I do want to be healthy. That comes from eating well and exercising. I have a gym membership that I actually use and I love the idea of eating well 80% of the time and indulging 20%, although it's more 50/50 for me at the moment, but at least I'm trying! Once a week, on a Monday, I will post a healthy recipe for you to try mid-week, it will either involve ingredients that you can pick up in your local shop or that you'll already have at home. Please let me know in the comments what you think of the recipe and if this will help you aim for that 80/20 goal!

Saving space - the pasta and and squash cook in one pan
January is the last time of year that you want to start a diet as it's so cold and gloomy, but it's the time that most of us do. This dish is comfort food turned healthy, I've already posted one recipe about mac and cheese that was a gorgeous cheesy blowout. This recipe has the name but uses butternut squash instead of white sauce and you can tailor the amount of cheese to your tastes (mine probably had more than it should!). It tastes very similar to the unhealthy version though, as it's so creamy. Thanks to the squash it has one of your five a day, and you could serve it with salad to add more. I know the temptation with these sorts of recipes is to add some meat to it but try to resist the temptation - I added pancetta originally and it was too salty and just didn't work with the creamy sauce. If you have to have some then maybe use this as a side dish and cook pork or chicken separately?

A peeled squash

Butternut squash mac and cheese
Serves 4 as a main
Oven at 180˚C
To save time you could buy pre-diced butternut squash, otherwise peel it until the deep orange colour comes through (as in the photo), then cut it in half lengthwise and then halve those again, scoop out the seeds and dice the squash into 1.5cm cubes.
The sauce seems very liquid when you put it all together but it will thicken up in the oven.
I think this recipe took me 20-25 minutes hands on time and then 15 minutes in the oven to make.
You'll need a blender of some kind, I used a stick blender.

1 small butternut squash
200g short pasta (penne, macaroni, shell or fusilli, so long as it'll hold some sauce it works)
Butter/oil for frying
1 small onion, roughly chopped
½ a cup of water (just use a mug to measure it and the milk)
¾ of a cup of milk 
Salt and pepper
Cheese to grate over the top (I used half cheddar and half parmesan to get a bit of a crust)

Turn the oven on.
Cut up the butternut squash according to the directions above.
Cook the pasta for 10 minutes, or until al dente. When there's 7 minutes left add the diced squash (it saves on washing up but try not to mix them too much - you have to separate them later).
Meanwhile, in an oven-safe pan, gently fry the diced onion in butter or oil until soft.
Drain the pasta and squash in a colander, and spoon the pieces of squash into the pan with the onions.
Add to the onions and squash the water, milk and salt and pepper, before using the blender to purée them, then adjust the seasoning to taste.
Once puréed add the pasta and mix through in the pan.
Grate over the cheese before placing in the oven for 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is lightly bubbling.

It was a hit!


  1. I have finally worked out how to leave a comment! I have tried this recipe and it was very good indeed - healthy but also comfort food.

  2. Love the texture of butternut squash but it doesn't taste of much so this is a great way to use it....will try at the weekend!

    1. The best thing is to use a small one - having used both they seem to have more flavour - plus a little goes a long way in this recipe. If you have leftover sauce you could always freeze it for another occasion


I love to cook and this blog follows my successes (and a few failures) in the kitchen. If you enjoy my posts, or think there is a problem with a recipe then please let me know