Whilst pumpkin season may be over, that doesn’t mean that those leftover cans of pumpkin purée sat on your shelves should go to waste. Instead of leaving them to gather cobwebs, put them to good use in this heavenly pumpkin Mac & Cheese recipe.
These cold and wet winter days call for a warm, hearty bowl of Mac and cheese that’ll warm-up your soul at the end of a long day. Mac and cheese always hit the sweet spot when it comes to comfort food, although when done the”traditional” way, with slathers of butter, cheese, dairy-milk and flour, it can often leave you feeling heavy and in a food coma for hours. Whilst this healthy pumpkin Mac and cheese still has the comfort factor, it also benefits from being lower in calories, Dairy-Free (DF), Vegan (VE) and Gluten-Free (GF). I don’t think there’s much more you could ask for from a bowl of pasta.
I want to say that I make my own pumpkin purée, but like most of us, time is precious, and Mac and cheese is a dish that’s meant to be as simple as possible, not requiring hours spent slaving over the stove. Therefore, I always keep my pantry stocked up with pumpkin purée all year round.
Pumpkins Health Benefits
Pumpkin doesn’t just taste good, it’s also jam-packed full of nutritious goodies
One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains):
- Calories: 49
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fibre: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
- Potassium: 16% of the RDI
- Copper: 11% of the RDI
- Manganese: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.
How to make this Mac & Cheese
I don’t really fuss over measuring the pumpkin sauce ingredients, simply tossing the pumpkin purée, cheese, butter (or oil) and spices in a saucepan and heating it until everything has melted. To finish it off, stir in some l’dente pasta and throw it all into an ovenproof dish. It can then be placed in the oven until the thick cheese sauce forms a heavenly cheese crust on top. If you want to make this recipe even higher up on the comfort scale, blend up some old bread to make breadcrumbs and coat the Mac and cheese before you put it in the oven. Yum. Anyone else’s idea of heaven?
Like most of my recipes, the ingredients for this Mac & Cheese are super versatile, depending on your dietary requirements and what you have handy in your cupboards. For example, if you’re GF, opt for a GF pasta (i.e. buckwheat pasta) but if you’re not, feel free to use whole-wheat pasta. Similarly with the cheese, using vegan or dairy-cheese is completely up to you. I’d love your recommendations for good vegan cheese. I am yet to find a brand that I like. I find you can never get that same gooey consistency you get with melted cheddar or mozzarella cheese
First, grab yourself some grated cheese, spices, butter, pumpkin purée and throw everything into a saucepan. Stir everything up until the cheese and butter has melted and everything’s well combined. Meanwhile, boil some pasta until it is l’dente, as you’ll finish off the cooking process in the oven. Run the pasta through a colander and pour over the pumpkin sauce, combining until the pasta is evenly coated. Set this to one side and grab yourself a blender. Throw in some old bread or leftover crusts and blend on high until a breadcrumb consistency has formed. Now, transfer the Mac & cheese to an ovenproof dish and coat in the bread crumbs (and extra cheese if you’d like). Place in the oven for around 20-25 minutes or until it is piping hot and a golden crust has formed.
Step 1: Find some old bread and blend on high for around a minute. You should be left with a smooth consistency of breadcrumbs. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Step 2: Add the butter, pumpkin purée, cheese, spices and garlic to a saucepan and heat up until everything has melted.
Step 3: Mix in some l’dente pasta to the cheese sauce, ensuring everything is well mixed.
Step 4: Place the cheesy pasta in an ovenproof dish and bake for around 20 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy.Print
This healthy pumpkin macaroni cheese is a family favourite, extremely hearty and perfect for those cold autumn days.
For the breadcrumbs:
- 2–3 slices gluten-free (or regular) bread
For the cheese sauce:
- 1 can pumpkin purée
- 1/2–1 cup vegan cheese (or regular). Alternatively can use some nutritional yeast for cheesy flavour
- 1/4tsp smoked paprika
- Pepper (to taste)
- 1/2–1tsp salt
- 2tbsp grass fed butter (or oil/ghee)
- 2tsp crushed garlic
- 250–500g gluten-free (or regular) cheese
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius
- Blend bread in a high speed blender until forms bread crumbs
- Cook pasta until el dente (about 10-12 minutes depending on pasta type)
- Add all other ingredients to a saucepan and warm on a low heat, until cheese and butter melted and well mixed
- Mix the cheese sauce and pasta in a saucepan
- Transfer to an oven proof dish and coat in breadcrumbs
- Bake for around 20 minutes or until bread crumbs are browned