Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 pound penne, or any cut of pasta you like
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 cup homemade pumpkin purée, or canned
- 2 cups (loosely) grated cheddar or gruyere cheese, plus more for topping
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for topping
- 1/4 cup fontina cheese, grated (or a few slices, like I used)
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, sliced
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 375º and place a 9×13 baking dish on a baking sheet or arrange 6-8 individual ramekins on a baking sheet. Set aside.
2. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Season with salt and add the dry noodles, stir often and cook 2 minutes under suggestion cooking time. It should not be overly soft. Drain and set aside.
3. To make the pumpkin cheese sauce, heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and melt. Add the flour and whisk together. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture smells nutty. Stream in the milk while whisking the entire time. Bring to a simmer and allow the milk to thicken. You will know the sauce is ready when the back of a wooden spoon is coated and you can leave a line with your finger without the sauce running.
4. Once thickened, season with the dijon mustard, salt, pepper, dried thyme, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Stir in the pumpkin. Turn off the heat and add the shredded cheddar (reserving a bit), grated parmesan (reserving a bit) and fontina cheese. Stir until the cheeses melt and the sauce is evenly incorporated together. Add the cooked pasta and stir once more.
5. Pour into the baking dish or portion out into the individual ramekins. Top with reserved cheddar and parmesan if desired.
6. To make the sage breadcrumb toppings, heat a small pot over low heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and melt. Add the sliced sage and cook until crispy. Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool. In a small bowl combine the panko and plain breadcrumbs. Add the crispy sage and melted butter. Stir with a spoon and sprinkle evenly over the mac and cheese.
7. Bake in the center rack for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve right away. Enjoy.