When the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop, my thoughts turn to cozy flannel pajamas, snuggling down under a blanket with a good TV show or movie, and hearty foods like rib-sticking stews and luscious, creamy casserole dishes. Every year around this time, I get the urge to experiment with canned pumpkin and working it into both savory and sweet dishes.
I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a good mac ‘n cheese recipe up their sleeve. Quick, easy, and satisfying. What could be better? The sage and nutmeg give the dish a seasonal flair. And the fact that this dish is loaded with pumpkin puree- which lends a creamy texture without the addition of cream- makes you feel slightly better about it as you spoon a second, generous helping onto your plate.
Please gloss over the fact that I topped mine with some bacon bits. A girl’s got to have some bacon, right?
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound macaroni (or other small pasta like shells and bow ties)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
10 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¾ cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring water to boil in a large pot and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a pan, melt the butter over low heat and add sage and flour. Stir together and cook for about one minute. Add milk, whisking constantly, until no visible clumps remain and the sauce is thickened. Add cheese and stir until it is melted into the sauce. Stir in pumpkin puree, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and mix until macaroni is coated. Sprinkle bacon bits over the pasta and serve hot.