Pumpkin Mac n Cheese

This month, were asking food bloggers to share their go-to fall pastas, and todays recipe looks incredible: PUMPKIN mac n cheese from Erin of Naturally Ella. Here goes…

Pumpkin Mac n Cheese
By Erin Alderson of Naturally Ella

Im a complete fall junkie, and it shows in the amount of pumpkin and sweet potato dishes I make during the cooler months. However, my husband isnt as keen on squash as I am, and will often pick around it. This macaroni and cheese is such a comfort dish and I love the creaminess of the pureed pumpkinplus my husband cant even tell that pumpkin is hiding in it! I also love using other squash (like butternut) or sweet potatoes. Blue cheese, caramelized onions and spinach are great additions, too.

Recipe: Pumpkin Mac n Cheese
Makes 3-4 servings

Youll need:
1 small pie pumpkin
3 cups (8 oz.) pasta
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. fresh minced thyme
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 cup 2% milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 pieces wheat bread
1/4 cup hazelnuts (optional)
1 tbsp. olive oil

What to do:
Preheat oven to 400F. Slice pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and place both halves cut-side down in a baking dish. Pour enough water in the pan to form a 1/4 layer. Place pumpkin in the oven and roast until tender, 45-55 minutes. Let cool slightly and scoop out flesh. Measure 1 cup and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook until just tender, 6-7 minutes. Strain and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat butter until melted. Mince garlic and add to the pot. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in flour, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook and whisk for another minute. In a blender, combine pumpkin puree and milk, blending until smooth. Pour mixture into the saucepan and whisk until well combined. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add in shredded cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Combine pasta and cheese mixture into an 99 baking dish or a pan similar in size. In a food processor, pulse together slices of bread and hazelnuts. With the food processor running, pour in olive oil. Sprinkle mixture over the macaroni and cheese.

Bake in the 400F oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is browning and cheese is bubbling. Serve warm.

Notes: The pumpkin can be roasted up to a day ahead of time. If making gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta and 3 tablespoons cornstarch in place of the flour.
Delicious. Thank you, Erin!

P.S. More best recipes, including a grown-up grilled cheese and cheesy spaghetti sauce.

(Photos and recipe by Erin Alderson of Naturally Ella. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)