Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese with Peas {gluten free}

I don't let dairy into my life very often, but when I do it is usually in the form of mac & cheese. 

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Cheese itself, in all its many forms and textures, gives me heart eyes for days. But I speak of real cheese. Brie, Gouda, extra sharp cheddar, Gorganzola. Not the Velveeta or the weird powdered kind that comes in boxed mac & cheese. 

Lets talk about that boxed mac & cheese for a second.  Guys, that stuff is crap. Fake, processed, additives galore. crap, crap, crap. Please never make it again. Because the real stuff, real mac & cheese that is made of actual cheese, is pretty much just as easy to make (done in about 15 minutes!) as the boxed crud. It's only a million times better for your body and will make your tastebuds do a happy dance in a way boxed mac & cheese never could. But in moderation, of course, because...well, cheese.  

I originally made this mac & cheese for a potluck play date with one of my daughter's classmates. I was trying to think of something easy to transport, easy to reheat, and would peak the interest of children and adults alike. Yet, I am still me and was determined to make sure the dish had some veggies in it to balance it out. I opted for butternut squash  because it has this lovely, naturally creamy texture to it when puréed and then added peas to the dish because I remember loving them in mac & cheese of my younger years. The result? No leftovers and multiple requests for the recipe. 

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If you don't have butternut squash on hand, puréed sweet potato would go beautifully as well! And I'm dying to sub sautéed kale or shredded carrots for the peas in my next batch. If you want to leave the veggies out all together and opt for a side salad at dinner, this mac & cheese is just as amazing. Just, please, no more boxed junk.

 

1 pound small gluten free pasta (I use organic brown rice pasta, but everyone has their favorite kind) 

2 tablespoons grass-fed butter

1 tablespoon arrowroot

1 cup milk 

1 cup grated cheese (you can use any type of cheese you like, though I prefer extra sharp cheddar) 

1 cup butternut squash purée 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup peas, cooked 

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook to directions. Once cooked, drain and set aside in a separate bowl.

2. Return the pot to the and melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add arrowroot, milk, cheese, butternut squash purée, salt, and pepper. Whisk the sauce until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

3. Add the pasta back into the pot with the butternut squash/cheese sauce. Mix until all the pasta is coated. Fold in cooked peas. Serve immediately.