Cheesy and rich, with a delicious pumpkin note – Homemade Pumpkin Mac and cheese is the perfect comfort food to celebrate the cold season.
A bowl of scrumptious mac and cheese is all it takes to lift you up on one of those grey-looking days.
Despite being made with pasta, mac’n’cheese has little to do with Italian culinary tradition, so I was never able to taste until I moved to London few years ago. And let me tell you, it was one of the best foodie discovery. I know it has somehow a bad reputation, but when done right, mac’n’cheese is an absolute delight to the palate.
Creamy, gooey and so heart-warming, nothing can beat a GOOD mac’n’cheese on a chilled day. Add roasted pumpkin and you will have the perfect dish to enjoy during the cold season.
I make mac and cheese for my family quite often, and I like to add a few add-ons every now and then to make things more fun. Today was just the perfect time to try out a pumpkin version.
This Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is simple and easy to make, and doesn’t require too much time. All you need is very simple ingredients, that you probably have in your pantry already.
Start by choosing the right pasta. I opted for Garofalo Dischi Volanti because I am completely in LOVE with this shape. It holds the creamy cheese sauce wonderfully, as they were meant to go together.
Once you got the pasta right, choose your cheeses. Traditional mac and cheese calls for cheddar cheese. For this luxury fall version I used french Comte cheese, a souvenir from my recent holiday in France ( but it’s available in most gourmet food stores) and italian Parmesan cheese. They both give a deep, rich cheesy note to the dish that really stands out.
Last but not least, make the most of your pumpkin and nicely roast it in the oven, rather than boiling/steaming it. It doesn’t take any longer and brings out all the fantastic pumpkin flavor together with a delicious roasted aroma. To make the job even faster, dice the pumpkin into small cubes, it will considerably reduce the cooking time. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, add garlic and a few sprigs of dried thyme and it’s good to go.
Once the pumpkin is roasted until soft, I put the cubes together with a simple bechamel sauce in my Vitamix and mix until creamy and evenly combined. Reserve a few pumpkin cubes aside, so you can scatter them over the top of your mac’n’cheese just before you put it in the oven.
Serve this scrumptious pumpkin mac and cheese in a large iron skillet or in mini cute casserole dishes, either way it’s guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. Plus it’s all vegetarian, making it also perfect for meatless monday.
If you try this recipe, and I’m sure you don’t want to miss this goodness out, let me know how you liked it. Leave a comment here below or snap a picture and tag it #thepetitecook on Instagram, I can’t wait to see your delicious dishes!
- 500gr short pasta
- 3 tbp breadcrumbs to top ( optional )
- 50gr / 2oz butter
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 liter whole or skimmed milk ( I use whole organic), warm
- 150gr / 5oz grated comte cheese ( or mature cheddar)
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 200 gr / 7oz finely cubed pumpkin
- few sprigs of thyme
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- extravirgin olive oil to drizzle
- salt and pepper to taste
- Arrange pumpkin on a baking tray covered with parchment paper.
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and add thyme sprigs and garlic.
- Roast in a preheated oven to 360F/180F for about 30 min or until soft and cooked through.
- In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water cook the pasta al dente, about 2 mins before cooking time.
- While pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium-low heat. Slowly add flour, while whisking the mixture until fully combined. Add bay leaves in.
- Gently whisk the milk in a little at the time, until you have a smooth even sauce. Continue to whisk and simmer on low heat until the sauce thickens a little, then turn the heat off. Season with a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the sauce and ⅔ of roasted pumpkin cubes in a powerful blender or food processor. Pulse until creamy and fully combined.
- Drain pasta al dente and transfer back in the pot. Pour in the pumpkin bechamel sauce, add comte cheese and half parmesan cheese and mix until combined.
- Divide pasta mixture into a large baking dish or individual casserole dishes, Scatter over the top remaining parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and pumpkin cubes. Season with black pepper and bake in a preheated oven to 360F/180C for about 20 min or until crispy and golden on top.
- Serve immediately, store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Substitute comte and parmesan cheese with your favorite if you like - gruvyer, mature cheddar, fontina are all good options.