Celebrate National Mac & Cheese Day with this healthy spin on the classic dish

Mass Appeal

(Mass Appeal) – When it comes to classic comfort food, it’s pretty easy to see why mac and cheese is at the top of many peoples’ lists. In honor of National Mac ‘n Cheese day, we want to welcome our friend Danielle Formaro, who’s here to put a healthy twist on this crowd-pleasing dish!

Ingredients:

1⁄2 cup whole-wheat or whole-grain bread crumbs (about 2
slices of bread)
1 large butternut squash
5 cups cooked regular or whole wheat shell pasta
2 cups non-sweetened almond milk
2 tbsp. wheat flour
1 garlic clove (sliced)
3 cups very sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. pepper
1⁄8 tsp. crushed red pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1⁄2 cup peas
Olive oil for drizzling

DIRECTIONS:
Prepare breadcrumbs.
Take bread and break it up into small pieces. Then place in a blender or food processor and process until it turns into fine crumbs and then put aside for later.

Prepare squash.
Fill a baking pan with about 1-2 inches of water. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and place face down onto the pan, skin facing up.

Bake 375F for about 40-60 minutes. You will know it is done when the skin looks wrinkled and browned and is soft when pressed.

Scrape out the squash meat into a bowl, and put it aside. Set oven to broil and position a rack on the upper half of oven, about 6-8 inches from broiler.

Prepare your shell pasta. Follow instructions on the box for an al dente preparation.

In a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat, whisk together almond milk, fl our, and garlic. Continue to whisk until nice and hot, but not boiling.

Add squash to the liquid mixture. Use a hand mixer or blender to combine and puree. Careful not to splash because it will be hot.

Once the mixture is pureed, add cheese, mustard, salt, black pepper, and red pepper, and stir until cheese melts. Add pasta and peas to the sauce and combine.

Transfer to a casserole dish (be sure to spray with a nonstick spray) and then sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Get a little olive oil and drizzle lightly over the top for browning.

Broil on the upper rack for about a minute or until golden brown and crispy. (careful not to burn, you may only need 30 seconds).

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