Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of warm Mac & Cheese? We don’t think so. Dressed up or dressed down, it’s one of our favorites to indulge in when the craving hits. We elevated a classic with a fall twist by adding our Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, Italian sausage and a large handful of baby spinach for a serving of greens. With a three cheese sauce and the sweet, delicate flavor of butternut squash, we think it’s a home run!
A tip from our kitchen? Opt for a shaped pasta that has plenty of surface area and nooks and crannies to capture as much of the cheese sauce as possible. We used cavatappi for it’s spiral shape, tubular noodle and grooved surface for the ultimate cheese sauce grabbing shape, but elbow macaroni or medium sized shells would also work nicely for this recipe. And yes, grating your own cheese is a necessary step when making homemade Mac & Cheese. Pre-shredded cheese will be less flavorful and has a more dry texture. It may add a few minutes to your prep, but the reward is worth it.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
- ¾ pound pasta (cavatappi or elbow macaroni)
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- ½ cup onion, minced
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 jar Stonewall Kitchen Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
- 2 cups Gouda cheese, shredded
- ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ pound Italian sausage
- 3 ounces fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain reserving about 1 cup of the water the pasta was cooked in. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add the flour and stir 2-4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk in the Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce.
- As sauce thickens, add the Gouda, cheddar and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Whisk in the salt, thyme and pepper to taste. Stir until the cheeses are melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add olive oil to another sauté pan. Brown and crumble the sausage. Drain fat.
- Combine the pasta, cheese sauce, sauce and spinach. If too thick, add a little of the reserved water the pasta was cooked in. Stir well.
- Grease a 3-quart baking dish. Add the macaroni and cheese mixture.
- Toss the bread crumbs with 1 Tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs over the top of the casserole.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sauce bubbles and the bread crumbs are golden. Serve immediately.