Get your bowls ready! You’ll want a big one for this rich, creamy butternut squash macaroni and cheese topped with a pretzel crust.
Fact: all macaroni and cheese should be topped with crushed pretzels. I mean, seriously, bread crumbs are so 2013.
The inspiration for this mac and cheese came from a trip to the Culinary Institute of America that I took last fall. On one of our breaks, Brandy and I went to the Apple Pie Bakery to grab an iced tea and catch up a little when we saw the sign advertising the daily specials. It contained five of the most magical words I’ve ever seen. Macaroni and cheese stuffed pretzel. Unfortunately, they were sold out (gee, I can’t imagine why?), but I haven’t been able to get the idea our of my head.
Here’s the thing though: as much as I want to eat a macaroni and cheese stuffed pretzel, I really don’t feel like making one. Instead, I decided to take a more classic approach and use crushed pretzels in place of breadcrumbs on my favorite butternut mac and cheese.
For more amazing macaroni and cheese recipes, be sure to check out Mac and Cheese Mania over on Nutmeg Nanny and Rachel Cooks. They’re also giving away some really awesome prizes from their sponsors, Door to Door Organics and OXO, so you definitely won’t want to miss it!
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons Gold Medal® all purpose flour
- 2 cups reduced fat milk
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 box (13 ounces) high-fiber elbow shaped pasta
- ¾ cup shredded Asiago cheese
- cracked black pepper
- 2 ounces pretzels,crushed
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Heat oven the 425ºF.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the squash and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes.
- While the squash cooks, melt the butter in a large pan. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute, or until golden brown. Whisk in the milk, ensuring there are no lumps. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly. Whisk in the mustard powder and cayenne pepper; remove from heat.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked squash into the cream sauce, leaving the water behind. Mash the squash into the sauce to create a smooth mixture.
- Add the pasta to the water you used to cook the squash. Cook until al dente (cooking time with vary depending on the brand of pasta used; follow the guidelines on the box.)
- Stir 1 cup of the pasta cooking water into the cream sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Stir in the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mac and cheese to a 9×6 inch baking pan. In a small bowl, mix the pretzel crumbs and olive oil. Spread over the macaroni and cheese.
- Bake 15 minutes.