When it comes to preparing vegetarian, it is amazing how there is so much room for creativity, and every season brings an opportunity to craft mouthwatering dishes that delight the palate. This Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese recipe is a wonderful play of preparing a traditional recipe in an innovative and creative way – I transform a classic mac and cheese and introduce the wholesome goodness of pumpkin into the mix.
Whether you’re a passionate home cook, enthusiastically exploring the world of meatless recipes, or simply someone in search of a delightful and nutritious meal for loved ones, this recipe has definitely become a wonderful addition to our repertoire. It’s a true crowd-pleaser that resonates with both children and adults, making it a stellar choice for gatherings and special occasions alike.
Picture the embrace of a cosy bowl of macaroni and cheese interwoven with the comforting warmth of the season’s pumpkin. This delightful dish offers a soothing hug, enveloping you in its lusciously creamy texture and the subtle, sweet notes of the pumpkin. But what truly elevates the flavour to a whole new level is the generous sprinkling of breadcrumb mixture infused with fragrant herbs, savoury Parmesan cheese, and a hint of chilli flakes. A biteful of this recipe is simply incredible, a harmonious blend of creaminess, earthiness, and a gentle kick of spice. It’s a culinary ode to autumn that can be enjoyed any time of the year, uniting the beloved creaminess of classic macaroni and cheese with the earthy, seasonal charm of pumpkin. Perfect for family dinners or festive gatherings, explore the versatility and decadence this dish brings to your home-cooked, vegetarian table.
Basic Ingredients of Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
Pasta (400g Elbow Pasta): The quintessential base of the dish that holds the velvety sauce well, giving a fulfilling and comforting bite each time.
Butternut Squash: Adds a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, enhancing the dish with a vibrant, golden hue and a natural sweetness that pairs excellently with the cheese.
Labneh: A thick, tangy Middle-Eastern yogurt that adds creaminess and a zesty contrast to the sweet elements of the dish.
Butter and Flour: Combine to create a roux, forming the backbone of the béchamel sauce that holds the dish together with a rich and creamy texture.
Milk: Merges with the pumpkin flesh, providing a smooth and velvety base for your sauce.
Bread Crumb Mixture:
Cheeses (Gouda and Sharp Cheddar): These cheeses bring a harmonious blend of creaminess and a sharp, tangy depth that complements the sweetness of the squash.
Gluten-Free Pasta: For those with gluten sensitivities, substitute traditional pasta with a gluten-free variant to maintain the dish’s comforting aspect.
Dairy-Free Cheese and Milk: If lactose is a concern, opt for lactose-free cheese and milk alternatives to retain the creamy consistency without the dairy.
Nutritional Yeast: For a vegan twist, replace cheese with nutritional yeast, which provides a cheesy flavor and additional nutrients.
Preparation Tips for Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
- Roasting the Squash: Ensure the butternut squash is roasted evenly and thoroughly to facilitate easy blending and to concentrate its flavors.
- Sauce Consistency: While preparing the béchamel, maintain a low heat to avoid lumps, ensuring a smooth and creamy sauce.
- Pasta Cooking: Cook the pasta until just before al dente as it will continue to cook when combined with the hot sauce, preventing it from becoming too mushy.
Serving Tips for Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
- Garnish: Top the macaroni with a generous helping of the crispy breadcrumb mixture, adding a delightful crunch and depth of flavor to each bite.
- Pairing: Serve alongside a refreshing autumn salad to cut through the richness and balance the meal.
Refrigeration: Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
Reheating: When reheating, add a splash of milk to retain the creaminess of the sauce.
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 large butternut squash, roasted
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 pcs sage
- 3 tsp garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup labneh
- 120 g gouda
- 120 g sharp cheddar cheese
- 400 g elbow pasta
Bread Crumb Mixture
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 sage leaves
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- pinch of chilli flakes
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the butternut squash halves in a large baking sheet, skin side down, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until it has softened. Scoop out the butternut squash flesh.
- In a blender combine 425g of pumpkin flesh and the milk. Blend until it has a smooth consistency.
- Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for about seven to ten minutes, or as per package instructions. Drain the pasta, top with a drizzle of olive oil and keep aside. Reserve the pasta water on the side.
- In a large-size saucepan, melt butter and mix in flour to make the roux. Continue mixing the roux until it has turned slightly golden brown. It is important to brown the roux to remove the floury flavour from your white béchamel sauce. Add milk mixture and continue mixing to avoid any clumps and anything from sticking to the base. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and stir thelabneh, followed by the cheese, into the béchamel sauce in small handfuls. Stiruntil the cheese just melts before adding more cheese.
- Return the saucepan to the stove on low heat, gently stirring the pasta into the sauce, adding ½ cup at a time, until all the pasta is fully coated in the sauce. Adjust the seasonings.
- In a medium size pan, melt butter and gently fry with garlic, sage, and chili flakes. Add in the bread crumbs and saute until in develops a golden brown colour. Remove from heat and mix in the parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
- Serve Pumpkin Mac and Cheese in a bowl and top it with the panko breadcrumb mixture. Enjoy!
- Alternatively, prepare as a bake. Transfer the macaroni and cheese mixture into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese in the baking dish.Bake in the preheated oven at 180°C for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the dish is bubbly. Remove from the oven, let it cool slightly, and serve your delicious Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese. Enjoy!