Somehow it’s already November and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Ten days away, to be exact.
If you’re anything like me, you haven’t bought a single item for Thanksgiving, and still haven’t quite nailed down what you’re going to make for your family gathering. So, to hopefully make both of our lives easier, I’m kicking off an entire week of Thanksgiving recipes.
I’ll be posting a new recipe every day between now and next Monday, when I’ll share my Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup, full of everything you’ll need for the big day!
Yes, you’re reading this correctly: I’m sharing SEVEN brand new recipes this week, including options for a meatless main course (if you’re a turkey lover, I’m assuming you have that part of Thanksgiving figured out by now), a few sides, starters, and dessert. As always, every recipe will be made with wholesome ingredients and no complicated techniques. Many of them can even be made in advance, to keep your Thanksgiving day stress-free!
Let’s start with this mac & cheese stuffed squash, shall we?
At it’s essence, it is truly just roasted squash that’s been heaped with homemade macaroni and cheese, topped with breadcrumbs, and browned in the oven.
The combination of dense, slightly sweet baked squash with creamy, cheesy pasta and crunchy breadcrumbs is absolutely incredible. I specifically made these to have on Thanksgiving, but I wouldn’t say no to this + a side salad for dinner all winter long.
To start, you’re going to need to cut open two small acorn squashes and scoop out the seeds. I originally roasted two giant acorn squashes, then realized they would be way too filling on a Thanksgiving plate; luckily I have an entire kitchen island full of winter squash (#squashlady), so I grabbed my smallest acorn and a cute little Red Kuri Squash and roasted them up instead. Since they’re so small, the squash only needs to be cooked for about 30 minutes, during which you will work on the mac & cheese.
Olive oil, flour, and milk get stirred together with some spices, then plenty of shredded cheddar gets stirred in to form an extra creamy, cheesy sauce.
Pasta gets boiled- I used this chickpea pasta, for an extra boost of protein and fiber, – then drained and mixed with the sauce, and piled high into the roasted squash crevasses. A little sprinkle of panko, a quick trip under the broiler, and you’re done.
I find the chickpea pasta makes it extra satisfying, particularly as a main course on Thanksgiving for those of us who aren’t into turkey- but doesn’t have any bean flavor at all! You can absolutely use whatever pasta you love instead.
Pro Tip: everything for this recipe can be made in advance, stored in the fridge, and baked off on Thanksgiving day! Tips for how to make this up to 5 days in advance are in the notes section of the recipe below!
Choose the tiniest squashes you can find (really and winter squash will work; Acorn is my favorite to stuff with mac and cheese, but others like Red Kuri, Kabocha, Buttercup, or even the round end of a Butternut would work) for a fun Thanksgiving side dish that everyone will love, or make larger ones as a meatless main course for your family members who aren’t going to be eating Turkey.
Either way, I think you’re going to love this dish. It’s:
slightly sweet from the squash
full of protein and fiber
and so autumnal!
Stay tuned this week for six more brand new Thanksgiving recipes, as well as the Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup a week from today!
And don’t forget to check out my PANTRY STAPLES page to stock your pantry with everything you’ll need before the big day!
- 2 small Acorn squash, or any other small winter squash of choice
- 8 ounces chickpea pasta, or other favorite small pasta of choice (I used Banza's shells)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk (I always choose grass-fed and/or organic milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups, when shredded)
- 2 Tablespoons panko breadcrumbs + salt, pepper, and olive oil to drizzle on top
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper for easier clean-up.
- 2. Cut the squashes in half from stem to tip, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Place face-down on the sheet pan, and bake in the oven for at least 30 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the flesh of the squash. When finished baking, remove from the oven, flip cut-side up, and sprinkle each squash half with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- 3. While the squash bakes, make the mac and cheese. Fill a medium-sized pot 2/3 of the way with water, and bring to a boil. When boiling, dump in pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Drain cooked pasta and set aside while you make the cheese sauce.
- 4. In the (now empty) pot you boiled the pasta in, add the olive oil and flour. Stir to combine, then turn the heat on to medium. Stir constantly until the mixture starts to bubble, then add in spices and milk. Switch to a whisk, and whisk to combine the flour/oil mixture with the milk. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and keep whisking constantly until the mixture boils. Once boiling, turn off the heat.
- 5. Shred the cheddar cheese, and stir it into the thickened milk mixture. Dump the cooked pasta into the pot of cheese sauce, and stir to combine. Taste and add a few extra pinches of salt and/or pepper, if needed.
- 6. Scoop the mac & cheese into the cooked squash, top each with a 1/2 Tablespoon of breadcrumbs, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
- 7. Turn the oven to BROIL, and put the pan of mac & cheese stuffed squash into the oven, just to brown the breadcrumbs. In my oven, this took 3 1/2 minutes under the broiler. I recommend setting a 2-minute timer and checking it every minute after, just so you don't burn the breadcrumbs.
- 8. Transfer to a platter and serve whole, or carefully cut each stuffed squash in half to yield 8 servings.
- This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to feed a larger crowd at Thanksgiving. All cooking times should remain the same.
- To make ahead: follow the directions as written, but don't top the stuffed squash with breadcrumbs yet. Let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. When ready to eat, top with breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the mac & cheese is heated through.