Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese is delicious comfort food that is packed with flavor but is lighter than a traditional macaroni and cheese. Plus, if you are in a situation where you need to hide the vegetables, no one will be the wiser.
• 1 box (16 ounces) whole wheat macaroni/elbows or other small pasta
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for the pan
• 4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
• 2½ cups milk (I like to use a mix of whole milk and 1% milk)
• 2 cups Simple Pumpkin Purée
• 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve ¼ cup for topping)
• 1 cup aged cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve ¼ cup for topping)
• 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
• ⅛ teaspoon dried mustard
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• ⅛ freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
• 1 cup bread crumbs (I like to use whole wheat panko bread crumbs)
Heat the oven to 375° and lightly grease a lasagna pan or large, deep baking dish. Mix the reserved ½ cup of mixed cheddar cheeses and the bread crumbs together in a small bowl for topping the cheesy pasta before you bake it.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions minus 2 minutes. After it has cooked, drain the pasta and return it to the pasta pot.
While the pasta cooks, begin creating the roux. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat. Once it begins to melt, turn up the heat to medium and let the butter begin to brown. Whisk in the flour until you create a thick paste.
Slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time so it forms a thick sauce. Keep whisking as you stir in the puréed pumpkin and all the spices. Add the 1½ cups of the mixed cheddar cheeses and stir until it is all melted. Taste and adjust spices as desired.
Carefully, pour the sauce over the cooked pasta. Use a rubber spoon to make sure all the pasta is coated evenly.
Pour the pasta and sauce into pan/baking dish. Top with the breadcrumb and reserved cheeses mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Let cool for around 5 minutes before enjoying.