Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

Okay, so I really, really love pumpkin. When I saw this recipe in the October, 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I just had to try it! My kids asked why it was orange and were a little hesitant to try it, but they all liked it and my husband declared it his "favorite mac and cheese ever." It's a unique savory side dish or main course that I'll definitely be making again soon!

2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup whipping cream*
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (1 piece of bread, crumbled)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sage leaves (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.

2. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

3.In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.

* NOTES: I used whole milk instead of whipping cream and it seemed plenty rich and creamy and saved us a few calories as well! 

If you can't find Fontina cheese, try Havarti cheese instead.  They are very similar.

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