Easy one-pot kimchi mac and cheese

Hetty McKinnon

BON APPÉTIT -“This is a ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ kind of recipe, borne from isolation, scant ingredients, an oversupply of kimchi, and sheer hunger,” wroter recipe developer and cookbook author Hetty McKinnon.

“Yet this unconventional one-pot approach also happens to be one of the simplest ways to prepare mac and cheese. Starchy pasta cooking water mingles with melted cheese to create a creamy, gooey sauce that still feels light.

“Kimchi and sharp cheese are a natural pairing (have you tried adding kimchi to your grilled cheese?) and combine harmoniously with butternut squash to deliver that irresistible triumvirate of flavours: spicy, savoury, and sweet. You could use sweet potato instead of squash, or even add a bunch of spinach or kale leaves to bring some greenery to the dish.

“Keep this dish vegetarian by using a vegan kimchi, but if you don’t have dietary requirements, any type is fine.”

One-Pot Kimchi and Squash Mac and Cheese. PHOTO: EMMA FISHMAN


Half small butternut squash

One onion

One garlic clove

One cup Napa cabbage kimchi

Two tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

One pound elbow macaroni, shells, cavatappi, rigatoni, or other short pasta

Four cups vegetable broth or water

Half teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

One pound sharp cheddar

Four scallions

Freshly ground black pepper


Peel half small butternut squash and cut flesh into half-inch cubes. Peel and finely chop one onion. Using the flat side of your chef’s knife, crush one garlic clove, then peel and finely chop. Coarsely chop one cup kimchi (some kimchi juice is okay; no need to drain).

Heat two tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high.

Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened slightly, about two minutes. Add garlic and kimchi and cook until kimchi is starting to brown and stick to bottom of pot, about five minutes.

Add squash to pot and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook, stirring halfway through, until squash is tender (a paring knife should pierce flesh easily), about six–eight minutes.

Remove lid and stir in one pound elbow macaroni, shells, cavatappi, rigatoni, or other short pasta, along with four cups vegetable stock or water. If using water, add half teaspoon of kosher salt.

Cover and bring to a simmer; cook until pasta is al dente and most of stock is absorbed (you want some starchy liquid left in pan), about six–eight minutes.

Meanwhile, grate one pound sharp cheddar on the large holes of a box grater. Trim and finely slice four scallions.

Reduce heat to low and add cheese to pot; stir until cheese is melted and gooey, about two minutes. Season mac and cheese with a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper and scatter scallions over.