Loaded Butternut Mac & Cheese

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.

I love that there are so many options.

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.

Drrrrroooooool.

 

Loaded Butternut Mac & Cheese

yield 6 servings

adapted from Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese with Bacon, Caramelized Onions, and Apples

  • 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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add onions and apples to the pasta. Stir to combine and add a dash more milk if needed.
  4. 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.