Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms is a delightfully cheesy, fast, seasonal and delicious one pot meal that the entire family will love. Affiliate links have been used in this post to link to items I am discussing.
This dish did not start out as a stovetop mac and cheese. I wanted a pasta dish with mustard, butternut squash, mushrooms and cheese in it. And if I am honest, I was envisioning a pasta toss. But when I got to the stage that I was going to add the cheese at, I chose to add flour and cream, which changed everything. For the better I might add. I have not been able to stop thinking about this dish. It is actually haunting me right now, as I type. It was that good.
You might be curious about the mustard seeds in a stovetop mac and cheese. I was literally headed to the fridge for some Dijon mustard when I had this moment of clarity. Mustard seeds are my favorite part of Indian cooking. Well, one of them anyway–I love a lot about Indian cuisine. And why was I wondering how and when to add Dijon mustard to this dish, when I knew full well from learning to cook Indian food that I could infuse the entire meal in mustardy goodness by popping the seeds in the oil? What was the worst that could happen? The kids ask me to never put mustard seeds in their mac and cheese again? So I gave it a whirl, keeping it to one teaspoon of seeds as I did not want the mustard to overwhelm the other components.
You already know I think the results were amazing. Now don’t go panicking if you don’t own dark mustard seeds (although, on the other hand, if you are so inclined, go check out all my Indian dishes and get inspired to add them to your pantry!). You can instead just add a little mustard powder, maybe 1/4 teaspoon, to your mushrooms about a minute before adding the wine. But seriously, I hope you check out Black Mustard Seeds (that link is to some at Amazon, but there are many other brands as well) because they do add their own distinct, delicious flavor. And if you are wondering, the kids asked what they were, I said mustard seeds, they mumbled something to the extent of “mmhmm” and kept eating.
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 t dark mustard seeds
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 T minced garlic
- 1 1/2 lbs sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup AP flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup grated Havarti cheese
- 3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional
- 1 1/2 lbs pasta cooked to taste in salted water (I used penne and rotini because I was using up some opened boxes)
Start the pasta while you are working on this dish. When you drain the pasta, run some cool water through it to prevent sticking.
Place the olive oil into a large, heavy pot or deep sided pan with the mustard seeds over medium high heat. Place a lid askew on the pot to prevent popping mustard seeds from escaping. When the mustard seeds slow their popping add the onions with a pinch of salt.
Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes, until they start to brown a bit at the edges. Add the garlic and mix in. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
Push the onions to the sides of the pan and add 1/3 of the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. After about 3-4 minutes, mix those mushrooms in and repeat with the next third of mushrooms. And then repeat again, until all of the mushrooms have been cooked into the onions and have reduced, releasing their water.
Add the butternut squash with a pinch of salt and mix into the onions and mushrooms. Add the wine, scrape to deglaze the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil. Let the wine boil off for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then cover the pot and reduce to maintain a gentle simmer for 10 minutes (if your squash chunks are on the smaller side, check at the 5 minute mark to see if they are tender).
By now the squash should be tender. Sprinkle the flour into everything and stir it in. There should be enough liquid to mimic a roux of sorts. The flour should be coating everything. Let it cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes to cook the flour taste off.
Slowly drizzle the cream into the dish, stirring to incorporate it into the flour. The mixture should resemble veggies (onions, squash, mushrooms) coated in white sauce. Continue to cook, stirring, until you can tell the white sauce has thickened (about 5-10 minutes).
When it is thickened, turn the heat way down and mix in the cheese. When the cheese has melted, mix the pasta in.
Serve hot, with chopped parsley if desired.
And for the collage lovers….