Skillet Broccoli Shells and Cheese

Skillet Broccoli Shells and Cheese

While at the grocery store a few weeks ago, I picked up the September issue of Cooking Light magazine, being intrigued by the cover photo of  “One-Pan Broccoli-Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese”. Knowing that my wife loves mac and cheese (and bacon), I knew I had to give the recipe a try. I modified the recipe a bit to suit my needs — most notably leaving the bacon off of my serving (since I’m vegetarian). Also, I used vegetable stock rather than chicken stock, and opted to use whole-grain shells rather than macaroni, because let’s be honest… macaroni is such a cliché pasta.

To say that I was pleased with the end result would be an understatement. Both my wife and I immediately fell in love with this dish, despite both of us being tentative about how the inclusion of butternut squash puree would play out. But in the end, I’d definitely make this recipe again. It was a fantastic, warm, and flavorful comfort food, perfect for a chilly September football Saturday dinner after watching our University of Michigan Wolverines win their home opener against Oregon State. And it was yet another great addition to my 50 in 15 Challenge.

If you’re looking for a slightly lighter and healthier homemade “mac” and cheese recipe, give this one a shot. You’ll be glad you did!


  • 2 c. unsalted vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 10 oz. package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed
  • 3 c. chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 c. low-fat milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz. uncooked pasta (shells, macaroni, etc)
  • 4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (plus more for topping, if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cooking spray or olive oil
  • 2 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)


  1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray (or add a bit of olive oil).
  2. Sauté the garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until beginning to soften.
  3. Add the stock, milk, and squash. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the pasta. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in broccoli. Cover and cook 3-5 minutes, or until pasta is done and sauce is thickened.
  6. Stir in salt, pepper, and shredded cheese. (If desired, sprinkle bacon and additional shredded cheese on top.)
  7. Cover and let stand for 1-2 minutes.


As mentioned above, I made a couple of modifications from the original recipe, but you can opt for whatever combination of stock, bacon, and pasta suits your taste. This recipe is an easy crowd-pleaser that is equally as easy to prepare, and will undoubtedly become one of your go-to favorites. I know it made my list of favorites!

Bon Appétit!


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