August 17, 2012

Summer squash macaroni and cheese

Serving bowl of summer squash macaroni and cheese.

A macaroni and cheese for summer?!? Yes, please! If you haven't discovered this already, macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. It's so warm, creamy, and delicious - it is like a hug in a bowl really. 

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I like to make classic mac n' cheese, but also like to change it up by using some butternut squash puree, including veggies like broccoli, or even spiced up with Mexican flavors, etc. This time, I figured that a bunch of shredded summer squash could be an interesting experiment. It turned out to be one of my favorite bowls of macaroni and cheese I've eaten so far! 

The cheese sauce was so creamy and there were tasty flecks of yellow and green summer squash throughout. Since I stirred the squash in raw, it retained it's freshness which provided a nice contrast in flavor and texture to the cheese and noodles.

So, here we have another recipe to use up some of your zucchini and other summer squash. I used one small yellow squash and a small-medium zucchini. You can use any that you have around, though the green is a nice color contrast. I find this type of recipe to be a good transition meal from summer to fall. 

This recipe will make enough to serve about four people as a main dish with a salad, or more people as a side dish.

Close up of a bowl of summer squash macaroni and cheese.

Summer squash macaroni and cheese
1 lb box of pasta such as shells
about 3 cups (lightly packed) unpeeled summer squash that has been grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet white onion
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 cups whole milk
2-1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of extra sharp white cheddar and monterey jack)

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until just under al dente. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a baking dish.

Place the shredded summer squash in a colander in the sink with a couple pinches of salt. Toss and let sit to remove some of the water.

Prepare the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion. Stir well and cook until just softened. Add the flour and stir well. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Slowly whisk in the milk until all the flour lumps are removed. Cook, whisking often, until the milk begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cayenne and mustard.

When the milk is thickened, remove from the heat and slowly whisk in 2 cups of the cheese. Whisk until melted and smooth. 

When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and return it to the pot. Gently stir to help dry out any water. Squeeze the summer squash with your hands or in a kitchen towel to remove any excess water. Gently stir it into the pasta. Then stir in the cheese sauce to coat.

Pour into the baking dish, top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until bubbly and the top begins to turn golden. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Baking dish of summer squash macaroni and cheese.


  1. What a clever way to use squash! Looks amazing! Have you seen that recipe (maybe Ellie Krieger?) where the sauce is mostly veggies instead of cheese. I have always wanted to try it, but I can't just quite give up that cheese!!

    1. I'm not sure if I have, but I do make a pasta where the "sauce" is basically a bunch of pureed veggies with a little Parm and pasta water. Pretty good!

  2. Agreed, that is a clever way to use squash!

  3. Bingo, I was thinking how I want to use up my squash this morning. I found it. Thanks.

  4. An ultimate four season comfort food!

  5. I'm not growing any squash in my garden this year, but I'm growing cucumbers. You never see cucumbers used as replacements in squash/zucchini recipes, but I'm curious if it could be done. I bet it could! Cause I'm crazy about mac n cheese... :)

  6. It's always a good time for mac and cheese!

  7. this sounds AMAZING! i love squash + zucchini in the summertime and i love love love mac + cheese, so i think this is brilliant. YUM!

  8. Ooo, looks delicious! What a great way to use up all the garden squash in the fridge.

  9. Great way of using those squash! Looks so delicious & I bet my boys won't mind eating this dish with some squash... well hidden! My cheating way to make them eat squash! LOL

  10. Great minds think alike, I just made mac and cheese this weekend! Love this version that uses seasonal produce -- looks amazing!

  11. Yummy! This is a great way to lighten and liven the traditional mac and cheese.

  12. So tasty! I love how this practically makes mac and cheese a health food!

  13. Love the addition of squash in this dish...

  14. what a fun way of adding season veggies to such a classic comfort dish!

  15. I'll have mac and cheese anytime of the year, yo! It's our family's fave comfort food as well, especially my kids who can't get enough of them! I can put anything on their mac and cheese and they'll gobble it all up! Summer squash is a wonderful add-on!

  16. This looks awesome! I've always wanted to try mac and cheese with winter squash (but my husband hates it), but I could totally get away with adding summer squash! Great idea!! :)

  17. This makes me so happy (and hungry)! I've seen plenty of squash mac & cheeses, which I LOVE, but never a summer squash version. Yum!

  18. I love squash and macaroni, so I'm sure I would enjoy this. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  19. I develop recipes for our church food pantry patrons using items from the groceries we give out. The squash Mac n cheese was adapted using less cheese, less milk and a cheap Mac n cheese box.

    2 cups frozen or fresh yellow squash
    1 cup chicken bouillon
    1 cup water
    1tsp garlic powder or2 cloves moved garlic
    1 tsp onion powder or 1/4 onion chopped
    1 box cheap Mac n cheese
    1 T oil
    1 tsp mustard (any kind)
    2 dashes cayenne
    1-1/2 cup shredded cheese (any kind)
    1 slice bread

  20. I have squash to use and this looks delicious. I will try it. Thank you!


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