I am a mac and cheese fiend-it’s my comfort dish. I have hit and miss memories on food and childhood but I do remember watching my mother make mac and cheese. She didn’t use a recipe (and still doesn’t) but makes the simplest, but amazing, mac and cheese. So amazing that every time I’ve tried to make it the way I like to make it, my husband looks at me and asks when I’m going to my my mother’s version. (I’ll be sharing this soon- once I nail down the right proportions.)
My love of mac and cheese + fall is quite evident on this site. I’ve made a quick butternut squash version and a gooey sweet potato version. I’ve mixed it up a bit by making mac and cheese from sweet potato gnocchi (delicious) and even made a dish that looked like mac and cheese with Brussels sprouts but was actually a delicious cheesy millet bake.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- 1 small pie pumpkin
- 3 cups (8 oz.) pasta
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. fresh minced thyme
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 pieces wheat bread
- 1/4 cup hazelnuts (optional)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400F. Slice pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and place both halves cut-side down in a baking dish. Pour enough water in the pan to form a 1/4" layer. Place pumpkin in the oven and roast until tender, 45-55 minutes. Let cool slightly and scoop out flesh. Measure 1 cup and set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook until just tender, 6-7 minutes. Strain and set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat butter until melted. Mince garlic and add to the pot. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in flour, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook and whisk for another minute. In a blender, combine pumpkin puree and milk, blending until smooth. Pour mixture into the saucepan and whisk until well combined. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add in shredded cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
- Combine pasta and cheese mixture into an 9x9 baking dish or a pan similar in size. In a food processor, pulse together slices of bread and hazelnuts. With the food processor running, pour in olive oil. Sprinkle mixture over the macaroni and cheese.
- Bake in the 400F oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is browning and cheese is bubbling. Serve warm.
by Erin Alderson