I saw this recipe for mac & cheese with a can of pumpkin mixed in a while ago on this blog and thought it sounded awesome. So I made it, and it was awesome. The boys liked it as well! Pumpkin is also surprisingly nutritious. It's full of Vitamins A, C and E, and also has fiber and a bunch of antioxidants. It also added to the creaminess and earthiness of this mac and cheese. Definitely a good seasonal twist on a traditional recipe.
Pumpkin & Thyme Mac & Cheese
2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
1 lb dry fusilli pasta (can substitute elbow macaroni)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons minced thyme
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces smoked gouda, shredded
1 ounce white extra sharp cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
lightly toasted/buttered panko breadcrumbs
1. Place milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium saucepan and stir together. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.2. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil add a generous amount of salt (2½ – 3 tablespoons) and then the pasta.
3. Boil pasta for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta and set aside.
4. Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle flour over melted butter and whisk together. Allow mixture to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in thyme.
5. Whisk pumpkin-milk mixture into flour mixture and continue to whisk until fully incorporated. Allow mixture to simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Place shredded cheese into a mixing bowl and toss together with lemon juice.
7. Stir cheese into the béchamel sauce and stir until cheese just melts. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and gently stir pasta into the sauce, ½ cup at a time until all of the pasta has been added and is fully coasted in sauce. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.