Healthier Macaroni and Cheese
- Yield: (about 1 1/2 cups each) Servings
- Course: Entrée
- 1 pound elbow macaroni, regular or whole wheat
- 2 (10 to 12 ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash
- 2 cups low-fat milk
- 6 ounces shredded cheddar and Jack cheese blend
- 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) reduced-calorie cream cheese (neufchâtel cheese)
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 6 tablespoons panko, regular or whole wheat
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the casserole dish
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Oil a 2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
- In a large saucepan or small stockpot, cook the macaroni according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the squash and milk, stirring and breaking up the squash. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the cheddar, cream cheese, salt, mustard, and cayenne, stirring until smooth.
- Drain the macaroni and return it to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and additional salt to taste. Transfer the entire mixture to the prepared casserole dish.
- In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and olive oil. Sprinkle the mixture over the macaroni and cheese. Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.