“Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese”
As with most microwaveable meals, we’re dealing with a disposable container here, so let’s choose focus primarily on the food itself.
It looks exceptionally rustic for an instant meal, no? This mac is serving up rich color on a wide, mezzi rigatoni noodle that I dare say is reserved for the upper echelon of microwave dinners; it sets the bar appropriately high.
Butternut squash is the first to step forward in the flavor lineup, but is quickly rounded out with the saltiness of the three cheeses. That particular balance is key; when the scales are tipped too far toward the squash, the dish becomes too sweet, and loses any semblance of mac & cheese. With the final chef’s kiss of sage coming through, the mac’s flavor lives up to its visual standard.
I can say, without any trace of humor, that this mac is restaurant-quality.
The best part of a microwaveable meal (apart from the instant gratification, of course) is that the proportions are always right; the sauce to pasta ratio creates the perfect creaminess.
In a mac & cheese like this that has a unique twist, the cheesiness acts as a co-star to the other ingredient. Here, the blend of gouda, cheddar, and parmesan does an excellent job supporting – but not overshadowing – the squash.
Most importantly, the cheesiness provides the warmth of flavor that is an absolute must in Fall comfort food!
The mezzi rigatoni furnishes this mac with excellent texture – after having tried the Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese twice now, I can also add that the recommended cook time delivers a perfectly al dente pasta that holds onto a whole lot of sauce.
Love! What more could you ask for from a microwaveable meal? I find that across the board, any of Trader Joe’s frozen/instant meals are pretty delicious and high quality; they almost make our 40 minute drive to TJ’s worth it!