Here's the deal: I know that classic queso is already extraordinary. It may seem silly (or even blasphemous) to incorporate a vegetable into an indulgent Tex-Mex cheese sauce, but I find that when you blend the traditional smokey-spicy queso with some roasted butternut squash, it becomes an extra silky-smooth, sweet-salty sauce that's incredibly addictive and, luckily, super simple to make. Ready? Break!
Note: The sauce can be made a day or two ahead of time and reheated in a pot when you’re ready to serve. It may need to be loosened with a little splash or extra milk and blended again to combine.
Preheat oven to 400° F. In a bowl, toss the butternut squash with olive oil, cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Once coated, pour onto a parchment lined sheet tray and roast for 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender. Set aside.
To make to queso, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Once the butter is hot, add the garlic and cook for about a minute or two until garlic is fragrant. Next, add in the flour and cook until just toasted, about two minutes. Using a whisk, slowly incorporate the milk to make a béchamel. Bring the béchamel to a bubble and let thicken just a bit. Remove from the heat and pour it straight into a blender.
To the blender, add the roasted squash, both cheeses, and the chipotle peppers. Blend for a few minutes or until the sauce is very smooth and silky. Taste and season with more salt, if necessary.
Pour into a serving bowl and serve immediately or put into a fondue pot to keep warm. Garnish the top with chopped cilantro, scallions and serrano pepper slices.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, Food Network Kitchen and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.