Crunchy-top mac-and-cheese

Crunchy-top mac and cheese

Total Time
1 hr 5 min
15 min
50 min
This cozy, comfort food favorite has everything you'd hope for in a great macaroni and cheese recipe, plus even more. It's creamy, loaded with flavor, topped with crunchy crumbs, and baked to marry all the flavors and textures. The bonus is the addition of butternut squash and cauliflower to the mac-and-cheese mix. They bring great texture, color, and a nutritional bump to the finished dish without adding much effort to the preparation, and they blend in seamlessly with the other ingredients. To dress up the dish even more, toss a teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme to the toasted panko in Step 2.


Olive oil

1 tsp

Panko breadcrumbs

cup(s), (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Uncooked butternut squash

20 oz, peeled and cut up

Vegetable broth

¾ cup(s)

Weight Watchers Reduced-fat Mexican style shredded cheese

1 cup(s)

Grated Pecorino cheese

2 Tbsp

Low fat cream cheese

2 Tbsp, (Neufchatel)

Dijon mustard

1 tsp

Table salt

¾ tsp

Cayenne pepper


Uncooked pasta

4 oz, about 1 1/4 cups mini shells


2 cup(s), chopped, florets


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray. Bring large saucepan of salted water to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 4 minutes; set aside.
  3. Add squash to boiling water; cover and return to boil. Cook, uncovered, until squash is very tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine broth, Cheddar, pecorino, cream cheese, mustard, salt, and cayenne in blender. With slotted spoon, transfer cooked squash to blender and puree. (Leave water in pan.)
  5. Bring water back to boil. Cook pasta half the time directed on package; add cauliflower during last minute of cooking time. Drain; return to pot. Stir in puree and toss to coat. Spread pasta mixture in prepared baking dish; top with crumb mixture and spray with nonstick spray. Bake until top is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 25 minutes.
  6. Serving size: about 1¼ cups