Baked Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Sage Breadcrumbs & Arugula Salad

Baked Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

with Sage Breadcrumbs & Arugula Salad

35 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

Pasta served in a cheese sauce—or “mac and cheese”­—has been a part of Thanksgiving dinners since the Victorian era. Traditionally, the dish is finished in the oven for greater textural complexity. Here, we’re making a seasonal and sophisticated version of the classic, using butternut squash and a Fontina béchamel (a classic white sauce with Fontina cheese melted in). A crispy topping of breadcrumbs, tossed with fresh sage and Parmesan, makes for the perfect finishing touch.

See Plans
  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    700 Cals (est.)
fresh
ingredients
Baked Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Sage Breadcrumbs & Arugula Salad
Title
  • ¾ lb Rigatoni Pasta
  • 4 oz Fontina Cheese
  • ¾ cup Milk
  • 2 oz Arugula
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 bunch Sage
  • 3 Tbsps All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ cup Dried Cranberries
  • ¼ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Sliced Almonds
time-saving
tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a large of pot of salted water to boiling on high. Using a sturdy knife, cut off and discard the squash ends; peel the squash. Separate the neck and bulb; halve the bulb lengthwise. Remove and discard the pulp and seeds; small dice. Cut off and discard the rind of the Fontina cheese; small dice. Pick the sage leaves off the stems; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Quarter and deseed the lemon.

Cook the pasta:
2 Cook the pasta:

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Reserving 1¼ cups of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly; rinse under warm water to stop the cooking process. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

Cook the squash:
3 Cook the squash:

While the pasta cooks, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the squash; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. Remove from heat.

Make the béchamel sauce:
4 Make the béchamel sauce:

In the pot used to cook the pasta, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the flour. Cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until golden. Add the milk and reserved pasta cooking water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, 2 to 4 minutes, or until slightly thickened. (If the sauce seems too thick, add up to ¼ cup of water.) Add the Fontina cheese. Cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until combined. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble & bake the casserole:
5 Assemble & bake the casserole:

To make the filling, off the heat, stir the cooked pasta and cooked squash into the pot of béchamel sauce; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and sage. Stir in enough olive oil to moisten the mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly spoon the mixture over the filling. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes before serving.

Make the salad & serve your dish:
6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

While the casserole stands, to make the vinaigrette, squeeze the juice of all 4 lemon wedges into a small bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, almonds and cranberries; season with salt and pepper. Add as much of the vinaigrette as you’d like (you may have extra). Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the baked casserole. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Prepare the ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a large of pot of salted water to boiling on high. Using a sturdy knife, cut off and discard the squash ends; peel the squash. Separate the neck and bulb; halve the bulb lengthwise. Remove and discard the pulp and seeds; small dice. Cut off and discard the rind of the Fontina cheese; small dice. Pick the sage leaves off the stems; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Quarter and deseed the lemon.

2 Cook the pasta:

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Reserving 1¼ cups of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly; rinse under warm water to stop the cooking process. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

Cook the pasta:
Cook the squash:
3 Cook the squash:

While the pasta cooks, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the squash; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. Remove from heat.

4 Make the béchamel sauce:

In the pot used to cook the pasta, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the flour. Cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until golden. Add the milk and reserved pasta cooking water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, 2 to 4 minutes, or until slightly thickened. (If the sauce seems too thick, add up to ¼ cup of water.) Add the Fontina cheese. Cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until combined. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the béchamel sauce:
Assemble & bake the casserole:
5 Assemble & bake the casserole:

To make the filling, off the heat, stir the cooked pasta and cooked squash into the pot of béchamel sauce; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and sage. Stir in enough olive oil to moisten the mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly spoon the mixture over the filling. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes before serving.

6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

While the casserole stands, to make the vinaigrette, squeeze the juice of all 4 lemon wedges into a small bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, almonds and cranberries; season with salt and pepper. Add as much of the vinaigrette as you’d like (you may have extra). Toss to combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the baked casserole. Enjoy!

Make the salad & serve your dish:
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