Is there anything better on a chilly autumn night than a bowl of warm, cheesy pasta? Comfort to the max. And I love a classic, comforting dish. But what I love even more is if that meal can be made just a little bit better.
Still all the comfort but add in a good dose of plant power and now you’ve really got me hooked. And that is exactly what this butternut mac and cheese is all about.
I am really excited to work with Modern Table on this recipe. If you aren’t familiar, they make delicious pastas (and pasta meals) made from lentils, rice, and pea protein. Needless to say, I am a BIG fan because I love a good source of plant-based protein.
Not only are their pastas gluten free and non-GMO, they are also a complete protein. If you need a refresher on what that means and why it’s awesome, go check out our post on great sources of plant-based protein from our Ask a Dietitian series.
You can use their pastas in all sorts of dishes, but here I’m sharing a recipe for mac and cheese that includes a good serving of vegetables too. Hello, butternut squash season!
This meal can be made in a crock pot (often called a slow cooker too, but here in southern Missouri I’ve always heard it called a crock pot).
You cook the vegetables and a few other ingredients for hours until soft and creamy, and then you’re just minutes away from dinner by adding the cooked pasta and cheese. I think you’re gonna like this one friends, so get excited for some creamy pasta with me!
Creamy Crock Pot Butternut Mac & Cheese, makes 4 small servings
1 butternut squash (approx. 15 oz once peeled and insides removed)
1 small yellow onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 sprig of sage or 2 dry bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
8 oz. Lentil Elbows from Modern Table
4 oz. shredded cheddar or a mix of cheese
2 oz. cream cheese
First, peel the butternut squash and remove the soft insides containing the seeds. Cube the remaining butternut meat. Remove the papery outside of the onion and give that a rough chop.
In a crock pot combine the squash, onion, garlic cloves, sage (or bay leaves), salt, pepper, cayenne, and vegetable stock. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8. Every crock pot is a little bit different, so it’s best to keep an eye on this the first time you make it.
The goal is simply to cook the vegetables until they are so soft then can easily be mashed with a fork. But you don’t want to cook so long that all the liquid is gone and the vegetables begin to dry out.
Remove the sage or bay leaves and use an immersion blender or regular blender and puree the mixture. It should be a like a thick soup at this point.
Cook the noodles according to the package directions (7-8 minutes in boiling water). Drain and add those along with the cheese and cream cheese to the pot. Give that a few stirs and allow the cream cheese to melt and everything to get well coated.
Taste and add a little more salt and pepper if you prefer. You can divide this into four small servings, it’s great next to a salad or vegetable side dish (might I recommend this brussels sprout salad).
Some of you who have never tried lentil noodles might be wondering about the taste/texture. To me, the texture is very similar to whole wheat noodles, and they taste like, well, lentils. Not much of a surprise there, I guess. 🙂
And it warms up great the next day too, if you have leftovers. I ate some of these leftovers for lunch one day and it was delicious! Enjoy. xo. Emma
This is now one of my every fall recipes. It is so good and I make it at least once a year. (also works great with chickpea flour pasta).
Just looking at these photos makes me hungry. I love it when old-school comfort foods get a healthy upgrade!
Just made the sauce last night. Super yummy! (I might even get my fiance to like butternut squash!)
My only issue is that I chose a big butternut squash and now I have a ton of the sauce.
Will it freeze well?
This looks divine and creamy. Can’t believe this has butternut in it! Yum!
Cooking this now.. but in the pressure cooker as I do not have time for slow cooking tonight! Can’t wait!!!
They look very nice.
Thank you for sharing Emma! So good! I added just a hint of mustard to it because it was a little sweet. Very simple to make and a healthy alternative.
Oh My Lord…these look amazing! And super simple to make too. I’m always looking for more crockpot ideas! My most recent hit was a chipolte sweet potato bisque-another great Fall option (www.behindtheplates.com)
Yum. Healthy pasta and gluten free -> such a good recipe. I’m going to indulge in this recipe on the weekend. Looks tasty.
This looks delicious. I love how creamy it looks. And the idea of using butternut squash is perfect. I truly love my comfort food!
That looks great! I always love the combo of butternut squash + sage. May have to make this soon!
Looks very nice!
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That looks like the perfect meal for cold and rainy days, delicious!
I can’t wait to try this! I haven’t been able to decide how to prepare some lentil pasta I bought recently but this is definitely what I”m going to do.
Update: I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! It’s so much more filling than an average mac and cheese since it’s basically all vegetables! I highly recommend, especially for people who eat gluten free (in particular, others like me who have to eat a lot of gf meals to accommodate their spouse).
This looks amazing! I totally need this in my life.
Yes!! I will totally try to make it!! As I’ve been doing with all the recipes you post ;p Thanks so much 🙂
YUM YUM YUM! Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables, and adding it into the mac and cheese is such a great idea for fall! Look so creamy and comforting 🙂
Mia | http://www.verymuchmia.com
Love this! Can’t wait to try it (but make it dairy free because…I’m lactose intolerant).