This is so exciting! I did my first collaboration and instagram takeover with the feedfeed and Progresso today! There was a ton of recipe testing in the Simply Beautiful Eating kitchen last weekend and the winner dish was this Butternut Squash Mac ‘n 4 Cheese.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Why not make your own stock? I usually do. It’s just that sometimes you are stuck for time and need a bit of assistance. That’s where Progresso steps in. Their chicken and vegetable stocks happen to be a perfect ingredient addition to recipes calling for a soup base.I used their vegetable stock for this heavenly recipe and it boosted the flavour and texture of this mac ‘n cheese to the nines.
Here’s the REAL story. I made a large casserole dish that would normally serve 6 to 8 people AND then a natural chain of events transpired. What this means is……..I couldn’t control myself for a change. This Mac came out of the oven at high noon and I drew my kitchen weapons at 12:02 p.m. I took the largest scoop I could fit on my spoon, burnt the roof of my mouth and then proceeded to put more fuel on the fire by eating another spoonful.
Um. I ended up serving it for just my husband and I that night and……..we ate half. Yes. Half. That’s correct. JUST THE TWO OF US. You are not reading this wrong. We finished a portion for 4 people and it was just the two of us. Oh my God. We are so bad.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced or grated
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 (13 oz or 375g box) of dry pasta, I used fusilli
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk, warm*
- 1 cup of Progresso All Natural Vegetable Soup Stock
- 1¼ cups old white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 (14 oz or 400g) container of small bocconcini cheese
- 1¼ cups jalapeno Havarti cheese, shredded (you can use plain Havarti if you don’t want it spicy)
- 5 ounces camembert or brie cheese, rind removed and chopped
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh pepper
- 1 cup mixed cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 regular kumato or heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- 1 cup of pureed butternut squash
- ½ cup baby spinach leaves
- Fresh basil for garnish – optional
- Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a deep 9 x 13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray or lightly grease with oil (I used coconut oil spray).
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta just under recommended cooking time (you want it al dente because it will continue cooking while it bakes in the casserole dish).
- While the pasta boils add 2 tablespoons butter and one tablespoon of olive oil to a medium skillet and melt.
- Add the garlic and sauté for a minute, then throw in the panko bread crumbs and toss to coat.
- Toast the panko bread crumbs for 3 minutes, continuously stirring to avoid burning. Once the crumbs are lightly toasted, remove from the burner and set aside.
- Drain your pasta well and leave it in the strainer.
- In the same pot you boiled the pasta, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Quickly whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook for 1 minute, stirring to avoid scorching.
- *Slowly whisk in the *warm milk, soup stock and kick up the heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil and keep whisking until the sauce is nice and thick, about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in all of the cheese (*except the bocconcini), Dijon mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is fully melted.
- Stir in the pasta, cherry tomatoes, spinach and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
- Dot with butternut squash, place in the bocconcini here and there and layer the sliced tomatoes on top of the pasta.
- Sprinkle on the toasted panko bread crumbs and place the baking dish onto a foil lined baking sheet - this will ensure that no mac ‘n cheese will bubble over into your oven (I hate when that happens). Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
- I fired up the broiler for about 2 minutes and let it get nice and crunchy brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5-7 minutes before serving (this is the part when I burned the roof of my mouth because I couldn’t wait).
- Garnish with fresh basil if desired.
- *Recipe note: You need to warm that milk up, don’t skip this part. The reason why is this. I find the warmth of the milk and the technique of adding it slowing to the flour and butter mixture ensures that the béchamel sauce is smooth and lump free. Trust me on this one. It works.
*disclaimer: This post was sponsored in collaboration with thefeedfeed and Progresso Foods, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.