Last Autumn, I heard of pumpkin macaroni and cheese and sort of dismissed the thought of pumpkin in macaroni. A few weeks later I had leftover pumpkin puree that I didn’t want to waste and added it to my macaroni and cheese sauce. You can guess where I’m going with this right? I was so pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
The pumpkin adds a subtle, earthy flavour but mostly lots of creaminess and who doesn’t love a creamy mac and cheese sauce? Because the pumpkin adds richness, cheese can be reduced, making this dish a lot more healthier and easier on the stomach than traditional macaroni and cheese. I finish the sauce with fresh sage or oregano and lots of freshly cracked black pepper to compliment the pumpkin flavour. This seasonal dish may be a good one to serve on Thanksgiving which is just around the corner for us, Canadians.
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese RECIPE
Makes: 4-6 servings
- half a box of Barilla pasta, cooked al dente
- 2 Tbsp. salted butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 sharp cheddar, grated
- 1/2 havarti cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/2 of 398mL can of pumpkin puree
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage and oregano
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- Optional: 1/4 panko breadcrumbs with 1/4 Mozzarella
1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring often with a wire whisk to prevent burning and browning.
2. Once the flour has been incorporated into the butter, add milk and then heavy cream slowly while stirring. The mixture will thicken, continue to stir to prevent lumps and burning. Slowly add the pumpkin puree, smoked paprika, and herbs. Let the sauce come to a boil and thicken. The sauce is ready once it lightly coats the back of a spoon. Stir occasionally.
3. Once the sauce has thickened, add salt, and black pepper. Keep in mind, cheese has salt so add salt with caution. Turn off the heat and give the contents of the pot a cook stir. Slowly add the cheese while stirring. The cheese will melt and incorporate into the sauce.
4. Check the seasoning. Immediately toss in the cooked pasta. Serve warm with freshly cracked black pepper.
Optional: Place in a buttered casserole dish and top with sprinkles of bread crumbs and shredded Mozzarella cheese. Broil in a pre-heated oven for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted and bread crumbs are toasted.
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend to my fellow Canadians!