I received a few boxes of Ancient Grains pasta to try, which you’ll see highlighted in the Pumpkin Mac & Cheese recipe below. Check out my Instagram Post here to win 5 boxes of your own!
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese should be on everyone’s comfort food bucket list. With the perfect combo of naughty and nice, this bowl of creamy, cheesy, and yes, veggie goodness is the perfect noodle dish for cold winter nights.
In my house Mac & Cheese reigns supreme. I live with four boys, so I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise. But me being me, I like to mix it up. And, if I’m gonna serve my boys big ol’ bowls of noodles and cheese, you can bet I’m gonna try and sneak some veggies in. Hence today’s recipe – Pumpkin Mac & Cheese, which is secretly (or not so secretly if your kids are into vedge), loaded with healthy stuff. Ok, and some cream and cheese. No one’s perfect.
Pro Tips for our Pumpkin Mac & Cheese Recipe
In our Pumpkin Mac & Cheese, the noodle is critical. I like a twisty noodle with nooks and crevices for the sauce to stick to. It needs to hold up once stirred into our cheese sauce. And, if you’re like me, this is also a great opportunity to sneak in some veggie goodness.
In this recipe, I’m featuring Ancient Grains Rotini – made with corn, brown rice and quinoa, it’s conveniently gluten-free (if you’re into that kinda thing) and offers a little extra protein. I don’t eat an exclusive gluten-free diet, but I happen to really dig gluten-free noodles. They’ve got a great chew that a lot of dried pastas don’t have.
The trick? Whatever you do – don’t overcook ’em. Seriously…. test along the way, and as soon as they are no longer crunchy, pull ’em. The box says 6-9 minutes, and six minutes for this pasta is perfect. (PS – I wasn’t paid by Ancient Grains to say this. They just gave me a few pasta boxes to try. If you want to try them for yourself, check out my giveaway on Instagram!)
After your pasta is cooked and you’re making the sauce, choose whatever milk you like. I used 2% milk, but you can totally use a nut or soy milk, or go luxe with heavy cream or half and half. But, don’t skip the real cheese. Because… cheese.
So what about the pumpkin? Play with this one. I’m using a conservative 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree in this recipe, but adding more is totally an option. You can also add an extra dash of nutmeg and clove if you want to play up a savory pumpkin spice flavor.
Finally, when everything is mixing together, feel free to add a little extra of your milk of choice to get a sauce that’s as thick or loose as you like. My version is on the thick and creamy side, but your version can be whatever you like!
What should I serve with my Pumpkin Mac?
Add this Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe to your Pinterest Board!
- 8 oz. dried pasta, gluten-free if you like
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (or gluten-free option)
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
- 6 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- pinch of nutmeg (plus more if you want a bigger pumpkin spice flavor)
- Cook pasta according to package directions. You want it to be a perfect al dente when you drain it.
- Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly, until a paste forms - about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a low simmer. It should have thickened quite a bit by now.
- Remove from heat and stir in the pumpkin, cheeses, nutmeg, salt, and cooked pasta. Return to a low heat and stir until well coated and warmed through. Add a little extra milk if you'd like to loosen the sauce.
- Divide amongst bowls and serve immediately.