food for a restless mind

Pumpkin ‘Mac & Cheese’

Show me anything that involves cheese and pasta I’m in. Unfortunately creamy, cheesy pasta dishes are not good for you. This pumpkin ‘Mac & Cheese’ crosses one of my cheesy temptations off the list. Made with delicious butternut pumpkin, and creamy almond milk, this flavourful substitute will have you craving more and forgetting all about boring old normal mac and cheese.

Preheat your oven to 375°C. Put the chopped up pumpkin, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, almond milk, and stock into a large pot. Cook until the pumpkin is soft (Hint: jab a few of the biggest pieces with a fork. If the fork goes in easily it’s done). Put your pasta on to boil, and cook using the packet instructions until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, make up the bread crumb topping. In a bowl mix together the toasted breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper.

food for a restless mind

When the pumpkin is soft use a stick blender to blend together the cooked mixture until it is smooth and kind of resembles soup. You can use food processor, or blender, if you want to, but I found it easier to use the stick blender. By now the pasta should be cooked, so drain it, rinse it with cold water, and pour it into a casserole dish. The dish I used was a little bit too small, but the mixture doesn’t expand too much as it cooks so it was fine. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the dish with the pasta. If you used a large pasta like penne, stir the pumpkin and pasta together so they combine properly. Cover the casserole dish in foil, to prevent the top from browning as it cooks, and put the dish in the oven for about 45 minutes.

food for a restless mind

When the pumpkin and pasta mixture is cooked, pull the dish out of the oven and spread the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Sprinkle the cheese over the breadcrumbs and place under the grill for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

food for a restless mind

Next time I will probably not use penne pasta as it left too much air in the ‘mac & cheese’. However, as the big chunk taken out of dish in the photo above, I couldn’t even take a photo before someone started eating it. It was delicious by itself, but we also had it reheated with sesame honey chicken (INSERT LINK) for dinner. You can also make this recipe vegan really easily, just use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and substitute in your favourite vegan cheese for the topping.

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

  • 800g butternut pumpkin, peeled, halved, and seeded, then cut into chunks
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • 1 pinch of rosemary
  • 1 pinch of sage
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 500g small elbow macaroni or mini shells (I actually ended up using penne, because that was all we had, and it still worked, so don’t worry too much about the type of pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons grated cheese (I used Parmesan)

Herbed Breadcrumb Topping

  • 3/4 cup of toasted breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp of finely chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°C.
  2. Put the chopped up pumpkin, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, almond milk, and stock into a large pot. Cook until the pumpkin is soft (Hint: jab a few of the biggest pieces with a fork. If the fork goes in easily it’s done).
  3. Put your pasta on to boil, and cook using the packet instructions until al dente.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, make up the bread crumb topping. In a bowl mix together the toasted breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper.
  5. When the pumpkin is soft use a stick blender to blend together the cooked mixture until it is smooth and kind of resembles soup.
  6.  By now the pasta should be cooked, so drain it, rinse it with cold water, and pour it into a casserole dish.
  7. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the dish with the pasta. If you used a large pasta like penne, stir the pumpkin and pasta together so they combine properly.
  8. Cover the casserole dish in foil, to prevent the top from browning as it cooks, and put the dish in the oven for about 45 minutes.
  9. When the pumpkin and pasta mixture is cooked, pull the dish out of the oven and spread the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Sprinkle the cheese over the breadcrumbs and place under the grill for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
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