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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

with Crispy Sage

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Crispy Sage

The base for this creamy, comforting dish is a white sauce, or béchamel sauce, made from butter, flour, and low-fat milk. It is the most common of the five French “mother sauces.” Sauces derived from mother sauces by adding cheese or other ingredients are often called “daughter sauces.”

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Crispy Sage ingredients
  • 1 Bunch Sage
  • ½ Butternut Squash
  • 8 Ounces Whole Wheat Penne
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Cup 1% Milk
  • ¼ Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ Cup Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs
Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Pick the sage leaves off the stems. Peel and medium dice the butternut squash.
Crisp the sage:
2 Crisp the sage:
In a large pan, melt the butter on medium-high. Once melted, add the sage leaves and cook about 1 to 2 minutes, or until dark green and crispy, being careful not to burn the butter. Transfer the leaves to a paper-towel-lined plate and season them with salt and pepper, leaving the butter in the pan.
Make the béchamel sauce:
3 Make the béchamel sauce:
Sprinkle the whole wheat flour into the butter and whisk until combined. Cook on medium-high about 1 minute, or until lightly golden. Slowly whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from the heat.
Mash the butternut squash:
4 Mash the butternut squash:
While the sauce simmers, add the butternut squash to the boiling water. Cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until very soft when pierced with a fork. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the squash to the béchamel sauce, leaving the water in the pot. Using a whisk or fork, mash the squash into the sauce until thoroughly combined. If using, stir in the cinnamon, then season with salt to taste.
Cook the pasta:
5 Cook the pasta:
Add the whole wheat penne and a big pinch of salt to the water used to cook the squash. Cook the penne 13 to 15 minutes, or until al dente. Before draining, reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Transfer the drained penne, reserved pasta water, and the Parmesan cheese to the béchamel-squash mixture. Stir until well combined.
Bake the mac & cheese:
6 Bake the mac & cheese:
Transfer the béchamel-penne mixture into a baking dish. Drizzle the whole wheat breadcrumbs with a little olive oil to slightly moisten them, then season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the moistened crumbs in a single layer over the casserole. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Crumble the crispy sage over the top. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Pick the sage leaves off the stems. Peel and medium dice the butternut squash.
2 Crisp the sage:
In a large pan, melt the butter on medium-high. Once melted, add the sage leaves and cook about 1 to 2 minutes, or until dark green and crispy, being careful not to burn the butter. Transfer the leaves to a paper-towel-lined plate and season them with salt and pepper, leaving the butter in the pan.
Crisp the sage:
Make the béchamel sauce:
3 Make the béchamel sauce:
Sprinkle the whole wheat flour into the butter and whisk until combined. Cook on medium-high about 1 minute, or until lightly golden. Slowly whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from the heat.
4 Mash the butternut squash:
While the sauce simmers, add the butternut squash to the boiling water. Cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until very soft when pierced with a fork. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the squash to the béchamel sauce, leaving the water in the pot. Using a whisk or fork, mash the squash into the sauce until thoroughly combined. If using, stir in the cinnamon, then season with salt to taste.
Mash the butternut squash:
Cook the pasta:
5 Cook the pasta:
Add the whole wheat penne and a big pinch of salt to the water used to cook the squash. Cook the penne 13 to 15 minutes, or until al dente. Before draining, reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Transfer the drained penne, reserved pasta water, and the Parmesan cheese to the béchamel-squash mixture. Stir until well combined.
6 Bake the mac & cheese:
Transfer the béchamel-penne mixture into a baking dish. Drizzle the whole wheat breadcrumbs with a little olive oil to slightly moisten them, then season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the moistened crumbs in a single layer over the casserole. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Crumble the crispy sage over the top. Enjoy!
Bake the mac & cheese: