You know those nights/days/weeks when you’re so exhausted or drained that you struggle to adult at all? This year, I have had a few more of those than I would like to admit. On those days, my go to meals (although I think we’ll agree that neither of these can be qualified as meals) are tuna sandwiches and pâtes au beurre. 

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those delicacies, I have recently developed an easy little trick to spruce up a plate of plain pasta that even adds a vegetable to the dish.

pumpkin and chestnut mac and cheese

This is a recipe for a healthier mac and cheese where instead of a really fatty sauce, we’re getting the creaminess from blended squash that is mixed with the grated cheese. The key here is making the squash mix in bulk because then you can freeze some of it for those non-adulting days. On those days, all you would need to have in your fridge is a block of Gruyère cheese (if you don’t have Gruyère in your fridge at all times, I’m not sure we can be friends). You would simply cook some pasta, defrost and heat up the sauce, grate some cheese and mix them all together.

You could stop there (and it would still be totally delicious), but just in case you want to take things to the next level and opt for a pasta bake, I have come up with a fancy chestnut and sage topping that will crisp the top perfectly. And that’s a 10 minute meal good enough to impress guests!

healthy mac and cheese recipe

Pumpkin and chestnut mac and cheese, serves 2-3

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • half a squash (about 700g), peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • a few drops Worcester sauce
  • 4-5 tablespoons milk (more to loosen sauce if necessary)
  • salt & pepper to season
  • 5 chestnuts
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 2 sage leafs
  • 250g elbow macaroni
  • 100g Gruyère cheese, grated  (plus 20-30g extra for the topping)


Preheat oven to 210°C.

In a small frying pan, melt the butter and cook the onions until soft and caramelised on a low-medium heat for about 15 minutes. Add the sage leaves whole and the crushed garlic for the last 2-3 minutes.

In the meantime, lay the chestnuts on their flat side on a chopping board and, with a sharp knife, make a slit over the top. Your aim is to cut through the shell but not into the nut. Cutting the shell is essential in order to ensure they don’t explode in the oven. Place on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.

In a medium sized saucepan, bring about 1l of vegetable stock to the boil. Boil the squash for 7-8 minutes until soft. Once cooked, strain but keep the stock. Place the caramelised onions, garlic, sage leaves, squash and milk in a blender. Add mustard powder, Worcester sauce and season with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

In a clean and dry blender bowl, blend the peeled chestnuts, breadcrumbs and sage leaves.

Cook the elbow macaroni in the left over stock that you set aside earlier following the instructions on the packet. Drain stock keeping a little bit at the bottom of the saucepan (this will loosen the sauce). Add the squash mix and Gruyère and mix well. You should feel like there’s a lot of sauce. Season to taste.

Place the macaroni in an ovenproof dish, top with the chestnut mix and some finely grated Gruyère. Grill the top in the oven until crisp.

Sofia Clara swiss food bloggerWhat do you think? Worth a try? I’d love to know what your meals are for your non-adulting days.

Thanks for stopping by for a read. Big bisous xS