If you spend as much time as I do perusing food blogs, you're probably up to your ears in pumpkin recipes: pumpkin cupcakes, muffin, cookies, ice cream, whoopie pies.... the list goes on. Now, I'm not saying I'm not a fan of pumpkin-flavored goodies - I downed a pretty delicious pumpkin-cream-cheese muffin over the weekend and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since - but pumpkin is just such a versatile ingredient to work with; why just keep it for the sweet stuff?
Every year, a group of friends gather to celebrate "Friendsgiving" a week or so before actual Thanksgiving. Basically, it's just an excuse for everyone to bring a dish, stuff our faces and drink. It's one of my favorite days of the year, not only for the fun company, but also for the fact I get to dream up fun dishes to bring to the party. Last year, I made this pumpkin mac 'n cheese, which ended up being a huge hit. I'd been waiting all fall to make it again this year, and finally did so on Sunday night.
Not only is this version of mac 'n cheese thick, delicious and perfect for a crisp, fall evening - it's also relatively healthier than your average cheese-drenched noodle dish. It's a win-win!
Pumpkin Mac 'n Cheese
(adapted from Runner's Kitchen)
1 lb whole-wheat pasta
15 oz (1 can) pureed pumpkin
2 cups skim milk
6 oz. reduced-fat cheddar, cubed
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
4 T shredded parmesan
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 T panko bread crumbs
1 tsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9x13" glass pan with cooking spray and set aside. Cook your pasta following box directions, drain and set aside. In a large sauce pan, combine pumpkin and skim milk until simmering. Turn heat to low, then to the pumpkin-sauce add cheddar, cottage cheese and 2 Tb parmesan, Dijon mustard, salt, pumpkin-pie spice and pepper to taste -Stir until combined. Mix prepared pasta and cheese/pumpkin sauce and then pour into prepared pan. Mix bread crumbs, 2 Tb parmesan and olive oil in a small bowl, then sprinkle on top of mac 'n cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for an additional minute (or until top it golden and crunchy).
Recipe serves eight people who don't eat enough mac 'n cheese, or 6 people who fills their bowls up.