Italian-American families often have a festive pasta dish such as lasagna at the Thanksgiving table, along with traditional Turkey Day foods.
We’ve got two options for Pumpkin Mac & Cheese, a treat throughout the holiday season. Both recipes are courtesy of Cabot Creamery, makers of our favorite supermarket Cheddar.
This first recipe is courtesy of Kristina LaRue, RD, LDN, for Cabot Creamery. It uses better-for-you whole grain pasta and flour. Note that in this recipe, you can substitute white pastry flour and conventional elbow macaroni; but in baking cookies, cakes, muffins, etc., the substitution proportions will differ.
The second recipe bakes conventional mac and cheese inside a pumpkin!
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese (photo © Cabot Creamery).
*The recipe used Cabot Alpine Cheddar and Cabot White Oak Cheddar, but you can substitute Sharp Cheddar or Extra Sharp Cheddar.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Coat a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. COOK the macaroni to al dente according to package directions. Rinse and drain.
3. LINE a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon. Cook the bacon for 10 minutes and blot dry. Crumble and set aside.
4. MELT the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and slowly add the milk until the mixture is smooth and the ingredients are incorporated.
5. STIR in the canned pumpkin and continue to whisk until the mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the spices, cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for topping) and yogurt, whisking quickly to combine until the cheese is melted.
6. POUR the macaroni into the prepared baking dish and coat evenly with the pumpkin cheese sauce. Top with the remaining cheese and bacon.
 Your favorite mac and cheese recipe can served in a baked pumpkin. Photo courtesy Cabot Creamery.
RECIPE #2: MAC & CHEESE BAKED IN A PUMPKIN
This recipe is baked in a pumpkin, but there is no pumpkin flesh in the recipe. Instead, you can use the recipe above for a pumpkin-in-pumpkin dish.
Ingredients For 16 Servings
1. PREHEAT the oven to 375ºF.
2. PLACE the pumpkin flat-side-down or remove a thin slice from one side so the pumpkin will be stable. With a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half horizontally, slightly above stem, to form a bowl. Remove the fiber and seeds. With a spoon or an ice cream scoop, scrape out some of the flesh so shell has a thickness of 3/4 to 1 inch.
3. SPRAY the top edge of the pumpkin with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil; then place it cut-side down on a pizza pan or baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the pumpkin still holds it shape but the flesh is cooked and can be pierced easily with a toothpick. While pumpkin bakes…
4. COOK the macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
5. MAKE the cheese sauce: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Sprinkle the flour into the butter and whisk constantly until there is a thick, smooth paste with nutty aroma (about 5 minutes).
6. ADD the mustard, red pepper and Worcestershire. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue stirring until the sauce thickens and returns to a simmer.
7. REDUCE the heat to low. Add 7 cups of the cheese and stir until melted. Add the macaroni, stirring until well coated; remove from the heat.
8. TURN the baked pumpkin over with oven mitts. Place it in a large shallow baking dish (from which you’ll serve it), or leave it on the baking sheet. Fill the pumpkin with the macaroni mixture and top with the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. (Put any mac and cheese that won’t fit into another small baking dish).
9. BAKE until the filling is puffed and golden, about 40 to 50 minutes longer (a smaller baking dish will be done sooner). Let stand for about 10 minutes to settle before serving. Garnish and serve.