Food + Wine

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

I have so many different macaroni and cheese recipes.  There’s my Macaroni and Goat Cheese, my Macaroni and Pimento Cheese, Hawaiian Mac n Cheese, and those are just the ones I’ve shared.  It’s just a perfect food, the Macaroni and cheese.  I like to use whole wheat pasta when I can, (because when it’s hiding underneath mounds of cheese and sauce, why not?) and sometimes I will sneak in some pureed sweet potatoes, carrots, or cauliflower so it’s more nutritious.  I also like to cut down on the fat, but only when it doesn’t sacrifice flavor.

I think an extra sharp cheddar is a great cheese to use in most mac n cheeses because its flavor is so complex and its an easy to find, inexpensive option for most people.  But it is not available in low fat.  This means I just cut back in other areas.  I don’t use cream or a lot of milk in mine usually, if at all.  Instead I use some reserved pasta cooking water.  That not only saves some calories, but money as well.  And I rarely use more than a Tablespoon of butter to make my roux.  It’s just not necessary to use more.  But do not get me wrong, here.  I am not making some sort of diet macaroni and cheese.  No, ma’am.  There is no such thing.  I just don’t use unnecessary calories, in any of my recipes.  If I can’t taste every single fat gram, then it’s not worth it and I don’t want it in my food.

But I’ve been making this Pumpkin Mac n Cheese for awhile now and just never wrote down what I was doing.  Until now.

This recipe is really good.  It’s not one of those recipes that uses pumpkin as a secret nutritious weapon, this recipe truly highlights the pumpkin flavor and weaves that flavor, seamlessly, into the flavor of gooey, extra sharp cheddar cheese.  My whole family loves it-the baby and the child included. My son even had seconds and asked for it again tonight.  And having him ask for more of it made me feel incredible as a cook, and also as a mom.  Because I knew he was getting something that was actually good for him.

We ate ours lat night with my Balsamic Raw Kale Salad with Cranberries and Rosemary Candied Walnuts, and a Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a Dijon Mustard and Pepper Jelly Glaze.  It was the perfect meal.  And I’m counting down the minutes until lunchtime where I get to eat it all over again.

*Pumpkin Mac n Cheese
(this is a half size casserole, serves 4-6 ppl)

-In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook 10 oz of whole wheat penne, or any other short cut pasta (usually half a box) for 5 minutes, or until just before al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining. Set aside. (You will probably only need about 1/2 cup of the water.)
-In the same pot, on medium heat, melt 1 TB of unsalted butter with a splash of olive oil. When the butter has melted and has begun to foam, add 2 TB of flour and whisk until you get a paste. Allow this to cook for about 30 seconds before pouring in 1/2-3/4 cup of your reserved pasta water, while whisking.
-Add in 1 can of plain pumpkin puree and with a spatula, stir til combined.
-Add a good squirt or small spoonful of Dijon mustard, lots of freshly grated nutmeg, 2 tsp dried sage or 1 tsp fresh, a pinch of kosher salt, 1/2 tsp of sugar, and a pinch of white pepper.
-Add 8 oz of extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated. Mix well until melted.
-Add 1/2 cup of sour cream (cottage cheese is a great, lower calorie option). Stir to combine.

-Taste to check your seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
-Crack an egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Add a couple spoonfuls of your hot sauce to the beaten egg and beat with the fork to bring it up to a warm temperature so it doesn’t scramble when you add it to the pot. Pour in your egg mixture while you’re stirring the sauce and stir well. Turn the heat off.
-Add in your cooked pasta and stir well to coat the pasta in the sauce.  Add more of your pasta water if it seems too thick.
-Pour into a greased 9×9 baking dish.
-Top with up to 1 more cup of extra sharp cheddar cheese and enough unseasoned breadcrumbs to lightly cover the top, if desired.
-Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbles form around the edges of the pan and the top is golden brown and crispy.

-Allow to cool 20 minutes before serving. 


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  • Reply Lizzy February 4, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Great tips on making mac and cheese a bit healthier…yours looks fabulous!

  • Reply Jill Mant~a SaucyCook February 4, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Oh you had me at pumpkin! I love pumpkin anything, but pumpkin mac and cheese? Sounds like a recipe whose time has come. Oh, and I love the way you cut out some fat without resorting to deprivation. My kinda gal! I'll be back! Cheers!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne February 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks ladies!

  • Reply Ashleigh and Tiffani February 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    This sounds amazing! We are your latest followers. We are getting ready to start our second cookbook and love getting inspired by other cooks. We're glad to have found you for our blog roll! Cheers, Ashleigh & Tiffani, The Drinking Girls

  • Reply Everyday Champagne February 5, 2012 at 2:43 am

    Thank you Drinking Girls! 🙂 I'm so glad you stopped by!

  • Reply Velva February 6, 2012 at 3:18 am

    I never thought about adding some pureed carrots or sweet potatoes or pumpkin. I have such a hard time getting my son to eat vegetables, this would be a great way to add to a dish that he really enjoys.

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing your mac n'cheese pumpkin recipe.


  • Reply Everyday Champagne February 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Oh Velva, I hope this would work for your son! I've actually served many young and picky eaters mac n cheese dishes with hidden veggies inside and they have never been able to tell the difference!

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