Pumpkin Mac for the Win

I’ve done it.  Combined two of the greatest savory ingredients…CHEESE AND PUMPKIN.  Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese is one of those recipes which I have been reading about for the past month, seen countless recipes on Pinterest, talked about with every single person who will listen, but never put it to the test.  That is, until last night.

Every morning I start out with a schedule in my head (usually an overly-ambitious schedule) and every day, it seems to go a little astray.  I had planned to swim in the afternoon, but instead did a light bike and elliptical workout in the morning.  My legs have been hurting recently and I am not too sure why. (Yes mom, maybe the half-marathon and biking, but then how do those bionic athletes do it?) 😉 But, I haven’t been able to run as much as I would have liked or nearly as much as I used to.  Moving on.

Then, I was going to work on Adobe Illustrator for a marketing experiment, but ended up studying for my sales midterm and working on a history paper.  So, life doesn’t always go as planned.  One thing that remained constant, was my desire to make macaroni and cheese.

This was yet another recipe I decided to MAKE, not just talk and dream about.  It was also a part of my “eating real dinner” plan, instead of relying on grilled vegetables every night. More of my recipes to come…

I followed this recipe, but very loosely.  In fact, it went down more like this:

Harvest Macaroni & Cheese Pumpkin Style
Serves 4-6 (“Baked Mac” optional)

  • Pasta (probably a good 2+ cups mixed between wheat/normal pasta) filled up the pot, but feel free to use as much/little as you would like…the less pasta, the more sauce there will be)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup milk (any kind…I had skim)
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (obviously not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup cheese (mix it up…I had TJ’s “Lite Mexican Blend”, mozzarella, and parmesan mix); you could also use (aged white cheddar cheese or sharp cheddar) 
  • dash nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste (even included a pinch of my Uncle’s own spicy seasoning mix)
  • ~1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (if baking macaroni)

1. For baked mac&cheese, set the oven to 350F. Place a pot with the pasta and water on the stove and leave to boil.
2. In another pot, melt the butter and yogurt.  As it melts, add the flour and stir with a fork or whisk.  It will start to clump at which point add the milk.  At this point, the mixture may start to bubble, so lower the heat and continue to stir until all the lumps are gone.
3. Add the pumpkin to the flour/butter mix and stir well.  Then, begin to stir in the cheese, again incorporating completely. Once combined, add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
4.  Once the pasta has boiled to your taste (some like it chewier than others), drain into a colander and add to the cheesy/pumpkin sauce.
5. Pour the pasta into a 8×8 pan, cover with breadcrumbs and set into the oven for about 30-40 minutes.* If you are not baking it, serve hot and enjoy!

*I found that the panko doesn’t actually change colors when baked, so I had no clue when to take it out of the oven.  I just pulled it out when my stomach started grumbling.  It was 9pm, but I guess I was reverting back to my Barcelona dinner days.

I went a little overboard on the portions, so it could have fed 4-6 people.  Since I am not a big fan of leftovers, I divided the remaining lot up into my leftover yogurt containers so that I could distribute among my fellow fans of pumpkin. I also invited a couple friends over and both of them gave a big thumbs up.  This is huge considering they are a couple of my pickier eaters 🙂

Here are some of the extra ingredients, which I would like to include in future batches, although maybe not on “pumpkin” mac:
– sundried tomatoes
– avocado slices
– spicy chicken sausage

I’ve also heard of making a cauliflower or quinoa mac&cheese.  Have you made these before?  How did they turn out?

8 thoughts on “Pumpkin Mac for the Win

    • You MUST try this one! Plus, if you have leftovers, scoop one more spoonful of pumpkin in when you heat it up (microwave maybe?) and it is just as creamy! None of that stale texture.

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