What used to be called Fall has now become designated pumpkin season, and I fully embrace these gourd-filled months. PSLs are good and all, but the best savory use of pumpkin is this absurdly rich pumpkin mac and cheese. Last Halloween, I developed the recipe for pumpkin macaroni and cheese muffins, a foolproof, creative way to serve comfort food at Halloween parties. But for Fall weeknights with the fam, it makes no sense to bake the stovetop mac into little muffins. When you just want mac-n-cheese in a bowl in 20 minutes or less, here’s a rejiggered version of that recipe. I do recommend going the extra mile to roast up some pumpkin cubes and make the breadcrumb filling, but if you’re in a pinch for time, you can always buy preroasted butternut squash at your grocery store’s hot bar. And you can always grind up store-bought garlic croutons in a food processor or blender for the topping.
- 1 (8-ounce) box elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons salted butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for greasing the tins
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (or milk)
- 2 1/4 ounces smoked gouda cheese, casing removed and shredded (about 1 1/2 loosely packed cups)
- 5 ounces Velveeta cheese, roughly cut into cubes
- 1/2 loosely packed cup of shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 heaping cup roasted butternut squash or pumpkin (using the same method), cooled and cut into small dice, optional
- Garlicky breadcrumbs, for garnishing, optional
- Parsley, for garnishing, optional
- Pepper, to taste
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, then drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in pumpkin puree and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in heavy cream and cook, whisking constantly, until scalding (small bubbles form on the outer rim of the pan) and thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in smoked gouda, Velveeta, and parmesan until melted. Turn off heat and stir in cooked macaroni and roasted pumpkin (or butternut squash), optional. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide into bowls and garnish with garlicky breadcrumbs and parsley, optional.
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