Mac & cheese is one of those foods that reminds me of my childhood. The version I grew up with though was from a certain blue box- you all know the one I’m talking about, right? Well my kids love that version too but I am always on the lookout for a way to make meals that taste good but are healthy as well. This recipe definitely passes the test on that one. Cauliflower replaces some of the noodles and the butternut squash adds vitamins while thickening the sauce and giving it that classic orange colour.
This meal is fairly quick to make and it freezes really well. I often make a big batch with enough for dinner, leftovers and another meal to freeze for another day.
First off you will want to cut the butternut squash in half, remove the seeds and roast in the oven with some butter. Once it has cooled a little bit remove the flesh from the skins and puree. Add a small amount of water if you need to in order to make it smooth. These two small squashes will give you about 3 to 4 cups of puree once done. If you already have puree in the freezer then you can skip this step and just have it thawed and ready to add to the sauce.
Once that is done chop one head of cauliflower, one large onion, 3 cloves of garlic and 1/4 of a jalapeno. I used a small head of cauliflower this day as it is what we had received in our good food box.
Bring two pots of water to a boil and place noodles in one and chopped cauliflower in the other. Boil both until cooked but not over cooked. In order to make a pan this size as well as one-half this size (to freeze) I used approximately 1.5lbs of pasta. You will want to adjust how much you use based on how much cauliflower that you have. The texture of the cauliflower, when cooked is very similar to that of the noodles so it is not noticeable for those with picky eaters.
Drain both foods and place in a large oven safe dish.
Melt enough butter in a pan to coat the bottom and sautee onion, garlic and jalapeno. When done add to cauliflower & noodles.
Mix in about 1 cup of shredded orange cheese to the noodle mixture.
In a saucepan mix 2 cups butternut squash, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup Velveeta and 1/2 cup of orange cheese. Stir over low to medium heat until cheese has melted and sauce is smooth. If you are short on butternut squash you can make a rue of butter and flour first.
Add sauce to noodle mixture and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Mix all ingredients in dish so every noodle is evenly covered.
Then sprinkle the top with planko breadcrumbs.
Bake at 425F until top is browned and sides are bubbling- approximately 25 minutes.
Try some variations on this recipe by omitting the jalapeno, adding hot sauce or buffalo sauce or using different types of cheese like pepper jack or smoked gouda.