Let’s play would you rather, shall we? If you were to ask me “Would you rather fall on a cactus or go to the grocery store?” You may be surprised to know that I would brave the cactus before braving Kroger on a Saturday. Even though I love cooking, I hate going to the grocery. I would move mountains to avoid going. When Sam and I first started dating I didn’t have a kitchen in my apartment, and we ate out almost every meal. I had a mini fridge, so going to the grocery was never a big thing. But now that we don’t eat out much, I dread my Friday trip to the store. It’s crowded and no one wants to be there.
In the words of my dad, let me tell you, I have found a solution! I go to Trader Joe’s at night. That’s it! I work out after work, eat an early dinner, and then I head to Holy Grail of grocery stores. It’s 20 minutes away, but I never have to brave traffic again. They usually have almost everything on my list, and if they don’t, who cares! I just pick up something else that is probably better because it’s Trader Joe’s. They have a million meal-starter type foods, and I spend HALF of what I used to at the other groceries. Plus the grocery at night is a soothing ritual.
This Macaroni and Cheese recipe only has seven ingredients, plus it actually has vegetables in it! I’m looking for easy these days. I’m trying to eat less meat, spend less at the grocery, eat more vegetables, drink more water, less wine, and I’m trying to take the easy route when I can. That means nighttime grocery shopping, figuring out what I have in the pantry and using it all up. This recipe is perfect for that! I had some frozen butternut squash leftover from another recipe, so I just used that. You’re welcome to use a fresh one, peeled and cubed. Cut up the whole thing and freeze the rest for later. It’s great to find butternut squash in your freezer mid-summer.
Let’s get started on this recipe!
First you’ll boil your pasta. While that’s working, you’ll boil your squash for about 4 minutes or until it’s tender. Drain it and use a food processor or immersion blender to puree the squash. In a medium saucepan like the one I used below, add the butter over medium heat and melt. Once the butter is melted, add the flour, mixing together to form a roux. Stir in the milk and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the squash to the mixture, stirring to incorporate. Then add in the cheese, stirring into a nice melted cheesy sauce.
Drain your pasta and pour the pasta into the cheese sauce, mixing well.
That’s it! It’s the perfect solution to your constant quandary “what’s for dinner?” And it only takes a half hour to throw together. See the full recipe below!
- 1 lb dry macaroni or other short pasta
- 1⅓ cups milk
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- 1¼ cups parmesan
- half of a butternut squash, seeds removed, peeled and cubed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Boil pasta to package directions and drain.
- Meanwhile, fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your cubed squash. Boil squash until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the squash. In a small bowl, use an immersion blender to puree squash. Or you can use a food processor or blender. Set aside.
- In the same saucepan you used for the squash, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated. Cook for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add the milk and nutmeg and stir. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, stirring in. Stir in the squash. Then add the parmesan and stir well, bring down to low, and let heat gently. Mixture should be a thick cheese sauce. Turn off the heat and pour the macaroni into the cheese sauce.