Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese
I won't lie to you, this one really came out of left field. I had seen recipes for different pumpkin + pasta combinations, and every time I thought.. why? It always seemed excessive. Like every chicken bacon pesto alfredo ranch pasta Tasty video I hate-watch. Why do you really NEED to do that? And then, I figured it out.
The week prior to making this, our recipe (from sweet tooth Hillary) was for a variety of pumpkin cakes and bars. I'm sure you've probably noticed that we're into doing a lot of things from scratch, but fresh pumpkin is something I feel is truly worth the hassle. Your preparation is almost non-existent, you're really just slicing, scooping, and pureeing, the flavor variance between freshly roasted pumpkin and a can-o-Libby's could not be greater.
So we had a solid amount of pumpkin leftover from our cream-cheese-frosted pumpkin bars, and I thought... if ever there were a time to understand this fall obsessed fad, the time is now. And to my surprise, i loved it. Something about the way real pumpkin isn't too sweet, it holds a lot more of it's earthy flavor while also bringing warmth and creaminess-- it actually perfectly compliments a béchamel , which is nearly perfect as is. Feed this to somebody you really want to win over. You'll be drinking Pumpkin Spice Latte's together on an autumn afternoon in no time.
Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese
Yield - Serves 4
1 lb. shells or other small shaped pasta
2 small shallots, finely minced
4 tbsp. butter
4 1/2 cups milk, (or water, see note below) warmed
1 cup pumpkin puree
5 oz. sharp white cheddar
5 oz. goat cheese (I used honey chevre)
dash paprika, nutmeg & red pepper
drizzle of black truffle oil, if you're feeling wild
kosher salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
Boil water for pasta, heavily salt and cook until very al dente, strain and remove from heat. Combine shallot and butter in saucepan until fragrant and bubbly. When butter is melted completely, add flour and whisk 4-5 minutes or until lightly brown and toasty. Add one half cup of milk at a time stirring after each combined, allowing sauce to thicken. Continue to stir several minutes until mixture gets thick. Add pumpkin purée, stir until combined. Add sharp white cheddar and goat cheese. Salt and pepper to taste, with dashes of paprika, nutmeg, red pepper, and a drizzle of black truffle oil.
Note: When I went to whip this up, I had milk that needed to be used. But sometimes that expiration date does us dirty and the milk spoils before it's falsely stamped expiration date. I resorted to using water, and it seriously came out great. Also a nice health conscious option.
Additionally, I actually prefer mac and cheese unbaked. It feels very reminiscent of my true love, Velveeta (no shame), the creaminess of just-off-the-stove really does it for me. I also have no patience, so that's probably really it. However, if you're looking for a final touch, top this with more cheddar (I actually used provolone here which was great) and goat cheese, bake for 20 minutes and throw on the broiler for the last minute or two. Perfecto.