Here’s an earthy mac and cheese that takes a risk and wins! Pumpkin and cheese are actually make a great flavor combination. If you’re skeptical, substitute for another squash such as butternut squash.
This quick dish is yummy and totally fun for fall. Imagine the surprise when you tell everyone it has a touch of pumpkin! The flavor isn’t overwhelming. It’s just subtle enough that you can taste the unique fall take on this class comfort food.
Pumpkin puree has a moist, velvety texture, and it will keep the cheese gooey a little longer, I find. I like to grate my own cheese because it melts faster too, but whether you buy bagged or block, make sure it’s extra sharp cheddar — there’ just more flavor that way.
Note: Be sure to use pumpkin puree and nothing labeled “pumpkin pie mix.” The latter has lots of spices mixed.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound small pasta such as macaroni or shells (I used medium shells)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or a flour that fits your diet)
- 2 cups milk (whole or 2% but choose whatever fits your diet)
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- salt as needed
- 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (if making into a casserole)
- If making a casserole (if not, skip to step 2): Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spray or butter a 3-quart casserole dish. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta as package directs. Drain.
- In a large pan on medium heat, melt butter, careful not to brown. When melted butter just begins to bubble add flour and stir constantly for about 2 to 3 minutes. The color of the butter should turn light, golden brown.
- Continue to whisk constantly, while pouring in the milk. Whisk until mixture thickens a bit.
- Season with salt, pepper, Dijon, and nutmeg. Continue to stir. Add the pumpkin puree and 2 cups of the grated cheese. Stir until cheese sauce is smooth.
- Taste and add more salt, pepper, or Dijon to your liking.
- Combine the pasta and the cheese sauce, and stir until noodles are coated.
You can serve it directly from the stovetop or continue on and bake it for a while:
8. Transfer pasta to casserole dish, and cover with remaining grated cheese. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake on 400ºF for about 20 minutes.
*Note: You can broil it for a few minutes at the end to make it extra crispy on top.
Also see, Crock pot apple cinnamon oatmeal.