Butternut Squash, Sage & Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Not only is this recipe delicious but it’s nutritious, too.
Not only is this recipe delicious but it’s nutritious, too. Butternut squash provides all your daily vitamin A needs in a 32-calorie 1/2-cup serving. Squash is also loaded with a wide range of carotenoids with potentially disease-fighting benefits that range from reducing the progression of age-related macular degeneration, cognitive decline and cancer to promoting healthy skin. Working as squash’s sneaky sidekick, cauliflower may lack colour, but it’s still loaded with nutrients. This brassica vegetable is full of phytochemicals and sulfur-rich compounds that some research suggests may help reduce the risk of cancer. One cup of chopped cauliflower also offers a generous 2 grams of fibre for a measly 27 calories, making it a low-calorie yet satisfying “stretcher” for this butter-and-flour-free sauce.
And speaking of fibre, nothing beats the satiating, regularity-promoting, cholesterol-lowering, blood sugar-stabilizing powers of ground flaxseed. Flaxseed boasts omega-3s and 12 grams of fibre per 1/4 cup, so a little sprinkle can have big benefits. Studies show that a daily dose of flaxseed may also help reduce breast cancer, as well as prostate and colorectal cancer growth. This is one little seed you won’t want to skip!
- 1 box whole-grain short-cut pasta (like macaroni, fusilli or penne)
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion finely sliced (about ⅓ cup/75 mL)
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 375 mL chicken stock sodium-reduced
- 500 mL butternut squash peeled, finely diced
- 500 mL cauliflower finely diced
- 175 mL skim milk
- Pinch nutmeg
- 6 oz old cheddar finely shredded (1½ cups/375 mL)
- 1 oz Parmesan cheese finely grated (¼ cup/60 mL)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 5 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed
- 2 tsp fresh sage finely minced
- 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese finely grated
- Pinch fleur de sel
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook for 2 minutes shy of the package’s recommended cooking time; drain and set aside.
- Return pot to stove over medium-low heat and add oil. Add onion and caramelize until sweet and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add chicken stock and squash; cover with lid and increase heat to medium-high. Cook for 5 minutes or until squash begins to soften. Add cauliflower; cover again and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables fall apart easily when pricked with fork.
- Stir in milk and nutmeg. Transfer to a heatproof stand blender or use an immersion blender in pot to purée mixture until very smooth. (If using a stand blender, transfer mixture back to pot.)
- Heat pot over medium, stirring in 1 cup (250 mL) of the shredded cheddar and the Parmesan cheese. Stir gently until cheese is fully melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and stir until noodles are well coated.
- Transfer half of the mixture to an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheddar cheese. Add remaining noodles with cheese sauce; set aside.
- Add oil to a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Add bread crumbs and toss until fully coated.
- Remove bread crumbs from stovetop and mix with flaxseed, sage and Parmesan cheese. Spread evenly over casserole and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese sauce bubbles around edges and bread crumbs turn light brown. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.
PER SERVING (based on 8 servings, no topping): 297 calories, 15 g protein, 10 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 38 g carbs, 5 g fibre, 201 mg sodium