Thursday, September 27, 2012

Smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese


Pumpkin season is here and I couldn't be happier. Fall is my favorite time of year and one of the main reasons for that is the abundance of wonderful produce: winter squash, apples, turnips, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, grapes, and more. Last year I started making macaroni and cheese with butternut squash puree. I never posted the recipe for some reason, but it became one of our favorite fall meals. On a recent cold and rainy day, I really felt like a macaroni and cheese for dinner. This time, I decided to make it with pumpkin puree and lots of smoky mozzarella, smoked paprika, and cheddar. It was perfect for a cold autumn day. I think you could also use regular mozzarella and smoked cheddar if you wanted - as long as one of these cheeses is smoked so you get that smoky flavor. 

This dish is going to join my other macaroni and cheese creations: classic, Mexican, summer squash, butternut squash, broccoli, and I'm sure others that are yet to come. The great thing about the use of pumpkin puree is that it provides creamy sauce so you can cut down on the use of milk. This recipe makes a great main dish with a green salad or a side dish.


Smoky pumpkin macaroni and cheese
1 lb. pasta (shells or another short cut pasta)
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, lower for less heat
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, preferably whole
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1-1/2 cups shredded smoked mozzarella, divided
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar 

Butter a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until just under al dente. Drain when finished and return to the cooking pot. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When melted, add the cayenne and smoked paprika. Whisk until fragrant. Then add the flour. Whisk and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook, whisking often, until the milk just begins to thicken. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and continue cooking, whisking often, until hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese one handful at a time until melted and smooth. Leave about 1/3 cup of mozzarella aside. Pour the sauce over the pasta in the cooking pot. Gently stir until evenly coated. Pour into the baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake in the oven until bubbly and golden, approximately 20-25 minutes.


What was I cooking one year ago?: green tomato chutney
Two years ago?: chicken with apple and shallot sauce

23 comments:

  1. I am ALWAYS looking for ways to jazz up my mac and cheese. This looks fantastic!

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  2. I love adding pumpkin or other pureed squash to mac and cheese -- it's such a great way to increase the nutrition! This one looks really tasty with the smoked mozzarella!

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  3. Wow. What a great idea to add pumpkin. Such a creative twist!

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  4. Very interesting...I wonder if my kids will take to this? Ahhh...the bounty of Fall season...we're truly blessed to have such wonderful produce :)

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  5. Awesome idea! Love it & it's another way to make my boys eat pumpkin! hehehehe :)

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  6. Mac and cheese is my favorite meal of all time and it's hard to believe I've never had it with pumpkin. Definitely trying this!

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  7. oh wow! i am loving the addition of pumpkin to this!

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  8. This sounds wonderful! I have a little pumpkin puree left over from when I made some pumpkin bread, so maybe I could make a single-serving portion of this for myself? YUM!

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  9. Wow! Wow! Wow! This sounds so amazing, and looks so delicious! I wonder if I could sneak this onto the menu without my pumpkin-hating husband noticing!

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    1. Yeah, I wonder about this as well - my husband doesn't HATE pumpkin, but he is very suspicious of it as anything non-desserty. How pumpkiny-tasting is it? Because I really want to make it, but it's too much for just me, and cutting it down means leftover pumpkin...

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    2. It's hard to say because we love pumpkin sweet or savory. The smoky cheese is pretty powerful, but the pumpkin taste still comes through. You may want to swap the pumpkin for butternut squash puree and try that instead if you husbands like that better. Good luck!

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  10. I love the idea of the smoky cheese with the pumpkin! What a great flavor match! I'm craving this so bad now!

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  11. I also made a butternut squash mac & cheese last year, and loved it. I like your list of mac & cheese variations - keem 'em coming!

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  12. I could eat mac n cheese every day of my life. I long for it always. Right now, in fact.

    Nice way to amp it up a notch!

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  13. Pumpkin in Mac & Cheese sounds like a really tasty idea!

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  14. This looks like my kind of comfort food! Loving the mix of flavours, especially the smokey pumpkin.

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  15. First of all I love smoked paprika. I always have a tin on my shelf. You've just upped the comfort factor with the addition of pumpkin in mac & cheese. Very clever plus delicious.
    Sam

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  16. I'm super excited about fall foods as well! And I'm majorly loving this mac and cheese. The smoked paprika addition was spot-on.

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  17. Smoked paprika has such a unique and bold flavor! Your pasta is a perfect fall dish!

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  18. Lots of good stuff going on in your dish -- love the addition of smoked paprika and smoked mozzarella. I've been holding off, trying to enjoy the last of summer produce, but I must get some pumpkin soon.

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  19. Amy, this is a super way to get some nutrition into macaroni and cheese. Great idea!

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  20. beutifull recipe
    I wont try it real soon.
    Thank you for the recipe.
    bye fro Italy

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  21. Waw,
    I have never heard about this combination but because I love macaroni and cheese, I'm assuming it's very delicious.
    I'll give a try very soon.
    Thank you for sharing.

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