One-Pot Butternut Squash “Mac and Cheese”

One-Pot Butternut Squash “Mac and Cheese”

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Nothing says comfort food quite like a big bowl of macaroni and cheese. This recipe is a lightened-up take on this classic dish—a sneaky way to boost your veggie intake and I promise you won’t be sacrificing that hearty, cheesy, gooey deliciousness of the real thing. And with one-pot cooking, clean-up will be a breeze!

One-Pot Butternut Squash “Mac and Cheese”

Serves: 2 (or 4 as a side dish)

Time: 20 minutes

What You’ll Need:

  • About 3 cups of butternut squash cubed into smaller-than-bite-size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon of dried sage
  • 1 8-to-10 ounce package of your favorite dried tortellini (this recipe uses three-cheese)
  • 4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of half and half
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper

What to Do:

  1. Start by heating about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep sauté pan or skillet (make sure the pan you use has a lid—you’ll need it at the end). Add the butternut squash, sage, and a dash of salt and pepper, and sauté together for about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Let the butternut squash cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the cubes are soft enough to be easily mashed with a wooden spoon.
  3. Mash the butternut squash cubes into the broth.
  4. Add the tortellini into the pan, trying your best to submerge them in the broth. Allow the tortellini to cook according to the package instructions (mine took about 6 minutes).
  5. When the tortellini is tender, add the half and half and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Continue to mash any large chunks of butternut squash that may be remaining. By this point, the squash should have cooked down and become thick and sauce-like.
  6. Turn the heat off, and cover the pan. Let sit for about 3-5 minutes. This is when the magic happens—all of the remaining broth should soak up, leaving you with a thick, cheesy-like sauce.
  7. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve alongside a simple grilled veggie, like asparagus. Enjoy!

Perfectionist Tips:

  • Time-saving tip: If you’re making this on a weekday in a pinch, don’t feel guilty about buying the pre-diced butternut squash. It takes a lot more time and elbow grease to break down a whole fresh squash.
  • You’ll want to cube the butternut squash in very small pieces so that it cooks faster. The bigger the pieces, the slower the cook time.
  • I highly recommend the low-sodium vegetable broth so that you can better control the level of salt in this dish. If you don’t have low-sodium, then don’t add any additional salt to the dish.
  • A good chef always tastes the dish at every step. Be sure to keep tasting and adjust the seasoning to your liking. I added a little sprinkle of pepper and sage at the very end.
  • Remember to follow the cook time for your tortellini according to the package instructions. If using fresh tortellini, which only need about 3 to 4 minutes to cook, wait to add them into the broth until the squash is almost entirely cooked down. Otherwise, they may cook too far and become mushy.


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