I love a good weeknight dinner hack. Would you believe me if I told you this creamy butternut squash mac and cheese is made with just 3 INGREDIENTS? And one of them is not boxed creamy shells and cheese (no hating on the shells though, which were basically my undergrad fuel source).
- 1 lb macaroni or shell pasta
- 1 14-oz can butternut squash soup (see notes)
- 8 oz shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese or crumbled goat cheese
- Optional seasonings: paprika, garlic powder, sage
- Optional breadcrumb topping: 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve a cup of pasta water.
In a saucepan, heat butternut squash soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until it slightly thickens. Whisk in grated cheddar (or crumbled goat cheese) until completely smooth, then season to taste with optionals seasonings (see suggestions above) and salt to taste.
Pour cheese sauce over hot cooked pasta. Use a bit of pasta water if necessary to thin it out.
To make the breadcrumb topping (highly encouraged!), melt butter in a microwave-safe dish. Stir in breadcrumbs and season to taste with a pinch of salt. Transfer mac and cheese to an oven-safe casserole dish or cast iron pan and sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Transfer to oven and broil for a few minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn!).
Notes: A word about the soup. Ingredients are important here. I prefer Amy’s Kitchen Butternut Squash Soup because it contains a bit of flour, so it stands in as a sort of roux to create a creamy cheese sauce. Some canned (or boxed) butternut squash soups contain only vegetables and seasonings (awesome!) but don’t work as well here.