Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

2012-11-29 18.25.27
I’m not sure where I came across this recipe…actually, it wasn’t this exact recipe, it was another, but then I found this one, and I liked it even more, because it doesn’t have sage. I’m not a huge fan of sage. I like it in small doses (like in a browned butter sauce for butternut squash ravioli, which actually might taste like this, so sage would probably be good), but not a ton. I’ve overdone the sage in the past, and regretted it.

But when I saw it, it sounded so nice and autumnal, plus pumpkin has a lot of vitamins and adds a creamy texture, so you need less cheese. Is that a good thing? Not sure. I love cheese. Anyone who doesn’t love cheese (barring medical reasons) is an idiot. But we’re big pumpkin and squash fans around here, so it seemed like it might be fun to try.

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
This macaroni and cheese uses canned pumpkin puree, adding an earthy flavor to the cheddar cheese sauce. We used canned pumpkin, but you could certainly uses homemade pumpkin puree. If you do decide to buy the puree, make sure you opt for the plain pumpkin puree and not the “pumpkin pie mix” can, often found next to it. The mac and cheese can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce box uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni as directed on package. (Usually between 7 and 10 minutes).
  3. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour and cook while stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Place back onto heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer and stir 1 minute until thickened.
  4. Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg, mustard and pumpkin puree. Add 2 cups of cheese then cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.
  5. Drain macaroni. Add macaroni into cheese sauce and stir until coated.
  6. You could serve the macaroni and cheese now, or bake in the oven with extra cheese. To bake in the oven, pour into a 3-quart casserole dish then top with remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.
  7. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Results? It was good, and you don’t really taste the pumpkin. If you’re looking for a way to make mac and cheese more healthy, lighten it up, add some vitamins, all of that? This is an excellent way to do it. Really really good. Trying to sneak veggies into your kids’ mouths? This is a good way to do it. Far better than the box stuff. But it was just missing something. Not as rich and delicious as Thomas Jefferson’s recipe. That’s the very very best mac and cheese, in my book. But still, this was pretty darned good.

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