You know what I love about macaroni and cheese?
I mean aside from the fact that the combination of carbs and cheese is pretty much the most amazing thing on earth.
This mac & cheese….ooooooomg. It’s filled with center cut bacon, caramelized onions, and crispy sweet apples for the most amazing and surprising flavor combination. I wish I could tell you it was my idea. It totally wasn’t. I took it from this awesome lady, and changed a few things around.
Steve claims to not like butternut squash, but he definitely helped himself to seconds of this dish! The thing about adding butternut squash/pumpkin/sweet potato to mac + cheese, is that is just adds some creaminess, fullness and a hint of sweetness. You can use less cheese, but still get a thick, creamy, cheesy sauce that feels like you are breaking every diet rule you’ve ever followed.
I love how all of the textures come together in this dish too. Creamy, silky cheese sauce with crunchy bacon, crispy apples and perfectly tender onions. Opposing flavors and textures = my favorite thing ever. This dish has both. Excellent.
Loaded Butternut Mac & Cheese
yield 6 servings
- 2 cups dry whole grain pasta (brown rice, whole wheat, etc.–I had rotini on hand, but macaroni or penne also hold cheesey sauce really well)
- 1 cup butternut squash puree (I steamed chopped butternut squash and pureed it with my immersion blender, but you could buy canned, or even better, roast it first!)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 oz low fat cream cheese
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup shredded 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese + extra for topping
- 1 tablespoon light whipped butter
- 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
- 1 large crispy apple, chopped
- 4 slices center cut bacon, crumbled
- Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions, cover and cook on low-medium low for 30 min, tossing occasionally. When fully cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. In a large skillet over medium heat, whisk together butternut squash, wine, milk, and cream cheese. When combined, add in salt, then stir in cooked pasta.
- Add onions and apples to the pasta. Stir to combine and add a dash more milk if needed.
- Stir in cheddar cheese, then transfer to a n 8×8 cooking dish. Top with cooked bacon and a small handful of extra cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes until the top browns slightly. Serve immediately.