Macaroni and cheese was always one of my favorite dishes as a child, whether made from scratch or from a box. Either way, my mom usually tried to spiff it up, adding tuna or broccoli or something. Truth be told, even though I liked tuna and broccoli, I preferred my mac and cheese unadulterated – I just wanted straight-up pasta and cheese. Total kid food, right? My tastes have become somewhat more refined* over the years, though. This is a great spiced-up fall-time twist on the classic dish. The pumpkin sneaks in some extra fiber (not to mention the beautiful color!), and who knows – kids may not even realize that they’re getting some vegetables along with their pasta! The chipotles add a powerful kick and a nice smoky flavor, but use sparingly if you’re sensitive to spicy foods. Classic dishes are classics for a reason, but sometimes it’s more fun to try something a little different – after all, variety is the spice of life!
*Once in a great while, I indulge in some good ol’ mac and cheese from a box, and when I do, I still prefer it in its overly-yellow, super-cheesy unadulterated form. Some things never change…
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk, preheated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
- 1 cup cooked pumpkin
- 2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 pound pasta
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat until melted. Whisk in flour. Once tiny bubbles appears throughout, pour in heated milk while whisking. Cook until milk has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
- Stir in salt, chipotles, pumpkin, and cheese. Whisk until smooth. Combine sauce with drained pasta.
- Transfer to a greased baking dish (an 8×8 pan or a 2-quart casserole dish are good options, or even individual-portion ramekins). Sprinkle bread crumbs on top (if you want extra cheesy pasta, grate additional cheese on top before adding bread crumbs) and bake for 25 minutes or until slightly browned.
- Serves 4 for dinner; 6-8 for a side dish.
- The pasta shown in the photos is campanelle, but feel free to use whatever kind you have on hand.