White Cheddar Mac N’ Cheese with Squash and Toasted Walnuts

White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

In my perfect world, it would be fall all the time.

I didn’t know that about myself until I moved to the Philippines. I’ve always been a beach girl, aka Minnesota wannabe beach girl. But sometime in the last 6 weeks my body started rejecting anything resembling hot summer weather and craving anything in the range of 45-65 degrees.

Bev pretty much brought me to tears with this ode to fall: “Cooler temperatures… football season… the sounds of ‘aaaahhhh’ in the background as I noodle around in the kitchen over a pot of soup or something with the air conditioning off and the back door open.” That was before her lentil and zucchini tacos with chipotle cream sauce actually did bring me to tears.  I’m a hungry, emotional person right now.

And I want to noodle around with the back door open.

White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

I read that to Bjork (because yes, we sit around and read blogs outloud to each other – is that normal?) and we both started laughing like psychos.  Weeeeee are going to go crazy without a Minnesota fall.

The fact that I’m this worked up and it’s not even fall yet scares me a little bit. If you love me, you’ll protect me from your pictures of the blanketed hayride through the apple orchard with a bowl of chili and cornbread and a mug of hot chocolate. Block me or something. I’m warning you now.

Fun fact: I sweated through 84 T-shirts to make this pasta happen.

In return, this bowl of delicate, squashy, saucy, whole wheat rigatoni topped with more white cheddar and toasted walnuts straight up walked me into the air conditioning, sat me down on the couch, put a fork in my hand, planted a kiss on my cheek, and gave me every fall flavor I had been dreaming of.

By the way, how beautiful is air conditioning?

Please tell me you have white cheddar cheese and a squash handy. Cause it’s time to make this happen.

White Cheddar Macaroni and CheesePinit

5.0 from 8 reviews
White Cheddar Mac N' Cheese with Squash and Toasted Walnuts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 large kabocha squash (butternut would be good too!)
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts + extra for topping
  • 1 lb. whole wheat rotini (or elbow macaroni for more traditional mac n' cheese)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1-2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  1. Cook the squash. Here's how I did it: Slice up the squash into large pieces and place flesh side down in a large baking or roasting pan (you can really use anything - I used an aluminum cake pan - I don't have much to work with here in the Philippines). Fill the pan with water so it's a few inches deep - enough to touch the squash but not cover it completely. Wrap the whole thing with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees until fork-tender, about an hour. Remove squash from pan and set aside to cool slightly. If you didn't already toast your walnuts, just stick them on a pan and place in the oven for a few minutes.
  2. Scrape the flesh out and puree it flesh in a blender or food processor. Add ½ cup milk to help the mixture puree more smoothly, if necessary. If it's still too sticky, add a little water. Add the walnuts and puree until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook pasta according to directions. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions - saute for several minutes until onions are golden and translucent. Stir in the squash puree and add the cream cheese. Stir until melted.
  4. Combine the pasta with the squash sauce, adding vegetable broth as needed to get the right consistency for your sauce. For the white cheddar - stir it in so it melts, or if you prefer, divide it evenly among the bowls and sprinkle on top before serving. Or both.
I sprinkled each bowl with some extra toasted walnuts. The squash puree was SO GOOD, but it took a long time. For a shortcut, you can buy canned or frozen pureed squash. You'll need enough to make about 5 cups of the puree mixture. I can usually find some at my regular grocery store at home with the canned vegetables.

Nutrition Facts

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  1. I hear you re: the heat!!! And, I love fall – so I too, a Minnesotan, am thankful for the past few days. We’ve had the windows open, no AC for the first time in a month, and it’s been stellar. They are forecasting 5 days with highs in the 70s — first time since May. Just in time to go back to school 😉

    Weather aside, this is a stunning dish. I love butternut squash mac and cheese, we make that often. But, I have not tried it with white cheddar – yum. We usually toss in peas, since we’re allergic to nuts over here, but, I’ll be passing on this recipe to my extended family members who love nuts. Thanks! And, stay cool. The even better thing than coooler weather – following God’s call in your life and blessing others as a result.

  2. Oh this looks so delicious and hearty. I am craving the cool crisp air of fall myself. The heat has been oppressive this summer and I’m tired of sweating when I do anything. I’m ready for apples.

  3. Ohhhh me goodness I want this badly!

  4. I hear you — fall is the best (and I adore creamy, comforting dishes just like this one)! If it makes you feel any better, most of the US is still super steamy and in a few short months (after all is over), we are going to coveting your tropical weather and we shovel out our cars.

  5. Well you should come to Paris, it’s been fall all summer here, I bet you would love it!
    May I ask what plugin did you use for your Popular Posts on the sidebar? Or did you just do it manually? Thanks :)

    • Marie – too funny. I literally just removed that from the sidebar because it wasn’t being used much. I set this up manually. Email me if you want the code. I can explain how I set it up.

  6. Air conditioning is a miracle indeed! If it makes you feel any better, summer here in New York has been brutal this year. Several stretches of 96 degree days already… ugh.

    That looks lovely — I love cooking with squash. Have to try this when it cools off a bit.

  7. Oh man, I’ve been wanting to try a mac and cheese using squash for forever! I’ve done one with cauliflower that’s turned out great. Definitely will have to give this one a try! Looks delicious- thanks for sharing~

  8. I’m dying to make mac and cheese with squash – definitely going to use this recipe when I get around to it!

  9. Can’t wait to try this and your light chicken pizza (cauliflower crust??? who knew?)

    Stop by Sweetly Disturbed some time for some like-minded, domestically-irreverent company! Love your blog. Thanks!

  10. It’s funny you say that, Lindsay because the fall is beginning to be my favorite season too! Warm, comforting meals, pumpkin everything, sweaters, scarfs, and boots. :)

    My bf would go nuts for this mac n cheese. Well he goes nuts anytime I make something with pasta and cheese. And we both love white cheddar. This is perfect, Lindsay!

  11. This looks delicious! Once I had truffled mac n’ cheese and it was the best thing my tastebuds ever had. But I think white cheddar would be stiff competition.

  12. Guuuuurl, don’t I know it. That mac n’ cheese is KILLIN’ me right now.

    (and thank you for the linkage!)

  13. Found your blog recently and I think what you’re doing is admirable. You will make a difference in so many lives.

    I also admire the fact that you’re doing a cooking blog in that heat! All your recipes are so beautifully photographed and delicious-looking. I like all the ingreds. in this one, so will print it like the others.

    Best of luck to you in this challenging year.

  14. And I like you. :) Looks yummy, and I’m loving reading all about your life in the Phillipines.

  15. Crud, I spelled Philippines wrong. Makes me crazy when I realize that after I post something. :(

  16. I’ve always felt the same way about fall–especially after moving from the midwest to California! I can’t imagine going to an actual tropical climate. Toasty walnuts sound like a perfect contrast with creamy mac & cheese!

  17. I’m also excited for fall – squash, football food and fall/winter clothes!
    Does it cool down at all? Even though the temp doesn’t change much in LA, there is definitely a minor shift that we take advantage of. :)

  18. Yum!!! I agree fall is all about food for me. Oh and I will eat pumpkin flavored ANYTHING!

  19. Fall is my favorite time too! Yet here in San Francisco we usually have winter all year, except of course for the fall when we have our summer. This pasta sounds quite delish–I just love the kabocha squash, so I’m always excited to try new recipes with it!

  20. This looks gorgeous. I love the fact you read blog posts together. It’s great that you can both share the same interest like that.

  21. Aww, I’m glad you managed to bring Fall to the Philippines for a minute.

    ps had my first affiliate sale yesterday. Very exciting, thankyou!

  22. Lindsay, I’ve become such a fan, and I just adore your personality and love reading your posts and drooling over your delish recipes!!

    • Does indeed look yummy… and I do have a kabocha squash on hand, but if it makes you feel any better, I was actually going to grill it and toss it into a shredded kale and lettuce salad… because we DON’T have air conditioning. Though, I might try to adapt your recipe later, as I have to cook gluten- and animal protein-free these days.

      • Well, our kitchen doesn’t have AC, so I did sweat through the cooking process…. But at least I had another ACed room to sit in and eat a big bowl of it as payoff! With no AC… you better wait for fall to try it. :) Then you can eat it all fall and winter!

    • Rachael! That is so sweet. Thank you! :)

  23. You just made me feel better knowing I am not the only person wishing for fall. High temp here in Eastern PA was at least 90 today. Thanking God for your willingness to go to the Philippines!

  24. Stephanie says:

    I love your blog! It is hands down my favorite by far and then when I read that last line just now I laughed out loud & smiled. Your writing, your recipes, your work in the Philippines….you’re super awesome…I could sing your praises forever it seems ;). After reading your chocolate glazed mini donut post I ran & got my husband to read it too & now your blog is one of my very favorite things in my inbox besides emails from my family of course. ps~ You rock! :)

  25. Hi Lindsay! Another Lindsay here … just found your fabulous blog via pinterest and can I just say THANK YOU. Thank you for being so generous and sharing so much about how to become a better food blogger. Not only am I excited to try some of your recipes … re: this mac and cheese with walnuts (good on ya!) but I am at that point where I am dying to become a better photographer/attempt to monetize my blog, even a little 😉 and well, your site has been very inspiring and helpful already. Off to buy your book … and one more thing – what do you use to get the nutrition for your recipes? From one food blogger to another, much respect!

    • Thanks Lindsay! I love hearing that the eBook, the resources, etc. are helpful for other bloggers! The process of growing and monetization can be overwhelming, but seriously, if we can do it, you can do it. :) I had seriously no concept of monetization until about 9 months ago. I thought making $80 a month from this little site was, like, the best thing in the world. It’s been so fun to share what we’ve learned with others and get to know people along the way. I’m off to check out your blog now – thanks for getting in touch!

    • I forgot to say – for the nutrition labels I manually enter each recipe here: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  26. I love this, it sounds so rustic. And yes, Fall…every day please!

  27. My jaw just dropped. 😀

  28. Oh gosh I am so ready for fall. This is a perfect meal to wait (impatiently) for it! I love the walnuts in here, and white cheddar is my favorite!

  29. I am so ready for fall and everything about it! This dish definitely adds to those longings!!

  30. Even thought I am not ready for fall I still want this!

  31. With mac and cheese like this, I’m ready for fall too! I love the use of squash to complement the cheddar cheese and now all I want is a big bowl and a cool day with wood smoke in the air… I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and thanks always for keeping me inspired with new ideas…

  32. New subscriber to your blog, catching up and loving it. I admire your convictions in spending a year in a place that offers so many challenges. Just the thought of heat without air conditioning is making me sweat with you and I’m sitting in an air conditioned room! :) I make a very similar dish to this using roasted butternut squash and bacon. The nuts are an interesting addition. I won’t promise not to post photos of pumpkins and falling leaves when the time comes but I’ll be thinking of you and the comforts we take for granted here. And I’ll keep reading your blog!

  33. I don’t know how I feel about this. Macaroni and cheese with vegetables. Or I suppose squash is a fruit, but it’s still vegetable-y! It looks awesome, though. Too bad my husband doesn’t cook. I’d love him to trick me into trying this. :)

  34. Wow! That recipe looks incredible! I think my boyfriend would even eat that (I won’t tell him about the squash).

  35. Diane Cortese says:

    Love your blog!
    Interested in the healthy recipes .
    Possible to include the saturated fat count on your recipes?

    Also, how did you obtain your current teaching assignment in the


    Diane Cortese

  36. I’m having trouble with your Pin It button :( Sorry I’m a n00b. I click the first one with the ….. and I don’t get anything, and then I click the one at the bottom and get the image for the first with the rabbit hat (cute, but not really what I wanted). Advise?
    PS – just found this blog and love the creative recipes. Enough to join Pintrest!

  37. I made this dish last night for dinner and it was absolutely delicious. I cubed my butternut squash and then roasted it. Cubing the squash cut down on the bake time and I was able to puree it after about 20 minutes in the oven. This recipe is a definite keeper. Thanks much!

  38. Made this last night and subbed quinoa pasta and almond milk (in the squash puree), so it was GF and almost vegan…I couldn’t resist keeping the butter in. Halved the recipe and it still made three HUGE servings. The walnuts in the puree really take the sauce to the next level and add more cheesy flavor w/less cheese!

  39. Scratch that…not almost vegan–obviously there’s cheese in it.

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