Like most New Englanders, my love affair with fall and anything (and everything) pumpkin started early in life and there isnt a September, October or November that doesnt go by without an assortment of pumpkin breads, lattes and pies being consumed. But I always find that as many classic pumpkin themed dishes there are, Im wanting more; after all, shouldnt there be more dinner recipes that really let this fall favorite shine? Made with homemade pumpkin puree, my Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Sage Breadcrumbs fuses a classic dish with vibrant fall flavors, giving it an updated seasonal twist. -- Katie Barszcz
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese with Sage Breadcrumbs
1 3 lb. Sugar pumpkin, scrubbed clean
6-7 whole cloves
3 pieces of whole wheat bread
1 lb. dried pasta
½ Vidalia onion, diced
8 tablespoons butter unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons flour
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup shredded smoked Gouda
1 + ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese
1- 8 oz. log of goat cheese
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
A generous pinch nutmeg
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Carefully cut the pumpkin into six equal parts and scoop out the seeds.
Pierce the insides of the pumpkin pieces with the cloves, salt generously and then lay onto a cookie sheet, flesh side down.
Roast pumpkin until it is very soft, about 35-45 minutes.
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Peel off the skin of the pumpkin and place the flesh into a blender or processor.
Blend the pumpkin until smooth and velvety, and set the pumpkin puree aside.
On a baking sheet, toast the three pieces of bread until they start to brown a bit. Set them aside to cool, then use a processor to pulse the bread crumbs.
Mix in 1 teaspoon fresh sage and a pinch of nutmeg. Using your hands, combine 2 tablespoon of softened butter to the crumbs until they are evenly distributed. Season with salt and set aside.
Heat a medium-sized sauce pot and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the pan. Add the diced onions and a generous pinch of salt and cook on medium heat until they start to lightly brown (about 15 minutes).
Add the butter to the pot and once it has completely melted, gradually add the flour, stirring constantly. Let the butter-flour mixture heat for a minute or two and then remove the pan from the heat and gradually add in the milk, stirring constantly.
Return the pan to medium heat and add two cups of the pumpkin puree, stir, then add the mustard, goat cheese, smoked Gouda and 1 cup of cheddar cheese.
Stir until the cheese melts. Add the 1 tablespoon sage and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add a generous amount of salt. Cook the pasta until very al dente (about 5 minutes). Strain pasta and add to the cheese sauce, and pour into an oven-safe casserole dish.
Top with remaining ½ cup of cheddar cheese and Sage Breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered at 400 degrees until the breadcrumbs brown, about 30 minutes.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.