Let's say that you have a husband who is obsessed with mac & cheese. He like simple noodles & grated cheese as much as snobby gruyere-spiked baked noodles. Let's also say that said-husband has had a crazy past few weeks at work, the weather is getting cooler & cooler, and you have a can of pumpkin and some carrots that you need to use up.
This entire situation happened to me a few weeks ago, and I am just now getting around to sharing my new favorite mac & cheese recipe with you. Hey, at least I've finally done it, right? You're welcome. I like the sneaky addition of roasted carrots, which you can leave out and you will still end up with a perfectly fine dish. My opinion though? Add in the carrots because the roasted flavor shines through so subtly and perfectly, leaving you wanting more.
Pumpkin & Carrot shells with cheese
Recipe adapted from PBS' Fresh Taste
Yield: 8 servings
- 1/2 lb bag of Carrots, sliced into small moons/half moons (just make sure they're all the same size so they cook evenly)
- 16 oz small shell pasta (I like Orecchiette in this as much as Shells)
- 3 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp flour
- 3 cups milk
- 16 oz grated cheese blend (I generally just use cheddar, but you can add in parmesan, fontina, gruyere....go crazy!)
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 1.5 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast your carrots in EVOO and a sprinkling of salt for about 25 minutes, or until tender and a little crispy.
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water. Drain & Set aside.
- In a heavy saucepot over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk together and cook for thirty seconds. Add 2 cups milk and minced rosemary and whisk until smooth. Add another cup of the milk and continue to whisk. Cook for four minutes while whisking. The mixture will get very thick!
- Add 12 ounces of the grated mixed cheese (reserving about a handful of grated cheese) and stir well so that the cheese melts. Add the salt, pepper and cayenne followed by the pumpkin puree and roasted carrots.
- Blend the sauce using an immersion blender (like this Immersion Blender)
- Once everything is smooth, add the cooked macaroni and toss well. Pour into a 9″x 13″ casserole pan and top with the remaining grated cheese and the breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.