Stovetop Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

Shared by: EmmChase

This is a healthy version of a treasured comfort food – mac and cheese. The addition of pumpkin puree adds a great vitamin and vegetable boost, without compromising flavor at all! The yellow color comes from the pumpkin, not from cheese dyed orange. My family gets so excited when punkin' mac is on the table ~ it's satisfying to nourish the body and comfort the soul with this elevated version of a family staple. Leftovers never last 1 day.
Credit to Maria Lichty for this amazing recipe.


For the brown butter panko topping:

• 3 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
• 8 sage leaves
• 1 cup panko
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• Salt and pepper, to taste

For the mac and cheese:
• 16 oz large elbow macaroni ( I use Scooby-Doos aka Cavatappi)
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 whole cups milk, at room temperature
• 1 cup pumpkin puree
• 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• Pinch of nutmeg


1. In a medium skillet, heat the butter over medium heat, stirring and swirling the pan occasionally. When the butter starts to foam and smell nutty, add the sage leaves. Stir in the panko until moistened. Cook for about 30 seconds so the panko crumbs can get a little toasty. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it just until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta set aside.
3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the flour, ground mustard, and garlic powder to create a paste. Whisk in milk until smooth. Turn the heat to medium and whisk until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the pumpkin until smooth. Stir in the shredded cheese until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add a pinch of nutmeg.
4. Add the drained pasta and stir until well coated with the cheese sauce. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste.
5. Spoon the mac and cheese into bowls and top with the brown butter panko topping. Serve warm.

P.S. You could add bacon to add a smoky flair, or seafood (shrimp or lobster) for a decadent version.
Image credit is Maria Lichty as well, but mine looks just like this!


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