Put a Twist on Pumpkin Mac and Cheese!

ThanksgivingIn terms of Thanksgiving side dishes go, I’m pretty partial to macaroni and cheese. I mean, what’s not to love about a creamy, cheesy bowl of pasta next to your turkey and cranberry sauce?

In my opinion, any negative thoughts about carbohydrates go out the window on Thanksgiving as we load up our plates with mashed potatoes, rolls and casseroles.

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I had a hard time naming this dish because, to be fair, it can’t really be called “pumpkin macaroni and cheese” since I used shell pasta instead of traditional macaroni noodles. My love for shells and cheese goes back to my childhood Velveeta days.

You could definitely use macaroni noodles instead of shell pasta here, but I guarantee no matter what you use this dish will be a winner. It is quite positively the creamiest macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted, and the addition of rosemary and pumpkin gives it a special seasonal kick.

Baked Pumpkin Shells and Cheese

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Give mac and cheese a seasonal twist with this recipe for baked pumpkin shells and cheese from Jenna Weber of Eat, Live, Run. Jenna shares the story behind this recipe in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.

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Ingredients

  • 16 oz small shell pasta
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 16 oz grated cheese blend
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree (1/2 15-oz can)
  • 1.5 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta in boiling salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy saucepot over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk together and cook for thirty seconds. Add 2 cups milk and minced rosemary and whisk until smooth. Add another cup of the milk (reserving one cup) and continue to whisk. Cook for four minutes while whisking. The mixture will get very thick!
  4. Add 12 ounces of the grated mixed cheese (reserving about a handful of grated cheese) and stir well so that the cheese melts. Add the salt, pepper and cayenne followed by the additional cup of milk and the pumpkin puree.
  5. Once everything is smooth, add the cooked macaroni and toss well. Pour into a 9″13″ casserole pan and top with the remaining grated cheese and the breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

Yield: 8 servings


Jenna Weber, food blogger for PBS Food's Fresh Tastes blogJenna Weber is half of the Fresh Tastes blog team. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2008 and, since then, has worked as a pastry chef, bread baker and freelance food editor. Currently, Jenna blogs full-time on EatLiveRun.com where her delicious daily recipes and quirky culinary musings appeal to thousands. She lives in Northern California and, when not in the kitchen, can usually be found on her yoga mat.