Pumpkin-Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese
Veggies, cheese, whole wheat pasta and herbs make this mac ‘n cheese a "home run" meal.
- 1 pound whole wheat short-cut pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 slightly rounded tablespoons flour
- 1 cup amber beer or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 2 cups whole milk
- A couple of pinches of ground cloves or 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- About 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 can unsweetened pumpkin puree (14 ounces) or 2 cups pureed fresh roasted pumpkin or butternut squash
- 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese, divided
- Sweet paprika, for sprinkling
- Chopped parsley or chives, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and reserve.
- Pre-heat the broiler.
- Melt the butter in a medium size saucepot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, cook for 1 minute, then raise the heat a bit and add the beer or chicken stock. Reduce until almost evaporated, then whisk in the honey or syrup and milk. Season with cloves or allspice, mustard, cayenne, a little freshly grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Thicken to coat a spoon, a couple of minutes, then taste to adjust the seasonings.
- Whisk in the pumpkin puree, then stir in about 2 cups grated cheese with a wooden spoon until melted. Combine the pasta with the sauce and arrange in a casserole or individual ramekins. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and a light dusting of paprika. Broil to brown and bubble. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives.
Cooking with alcohol enhances the flavors of certain dishes. Some of the alcohol burns off in the process of cooking. If you are concerned about using alcohol when you cook, you may use the appropriate substitute listed in the ingredients.