This healthy pumpkin mac and cheese is a great dish for dinner with friends or a cozy night in.
Author:A Tavola Kitchen
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:25 minutes
Total Time:35 minutes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a dash for breadcrumb topping
2 tbsp flour (I used whole wheat, but all purpose will also work)
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flake
1/2 tsp salt, plus more for pasta water
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
3/4 cup pumpkin
1 cup reduced fat sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup gouda cheese, shredded
8 oz whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta in salted water according to package instructions, about 1 minute short of al dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta water in case you want to thin the sauce out later on.
Meanwhile, begin the cheese sauce. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Once hot, add flour and stir constantly until raw flour smell dissipates, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Remove the pot from the flame and whisk in milk. Return pot to flame and allow milk to simmer and thicken, about 1 minute.
Stir in red pepper flake, salt, pepper, and dijon mustard.
Add pumpkin and cheeses, stirring all the while. Simmer until you’ve reached your desired consistency; this probably won’t take more than a few minutes.
Strain pasta and mix into pot with cheese sauce. If desired, use some reserved pasta water to loosen sauce.
In a small bowl, drizzle about 1 tsp of olive oil over the breadcrumbs. This will allow for more even browning. Preheat broiler.
Transfer pasta mixture to a baking pan and cover generously with breadcrumbs.
Put pasta under broiler for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs are crispy and browned.
You can use pre-grated cheese in this recipe, but the texture won’t be as creamy. Pre-grated cheese usually contains some additives to prevent caking, which then interfere with the melting process.
If serving this dish while entertaining, it’s easy to prepare the day before. Complete steps 1-6, and the day of top with breadcrumbs and heat in oven at 350 for about 15-20 minutes. You may need to turn the broiler on at the end to brown the breadcrumbs.