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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 16 ounce package large macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk/heavy cream your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 15- ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups freshly shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs optional
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley optional

Instructions

  • Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain pasta about 1 minute before instructed; just slightly before pasta is al dente. Set aside.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden in color; about 1-2 minutes. Whisk in thyme and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in milk/cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Do not boil. Simmer until thickened; about 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
  • Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg and pumpkin purée until smooth.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cheeses until melted. Stir pasta and cheese sauce together in pan. Serve as is or bake as directed below.
  • To bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 11x7-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour pumpkin mac & cheese into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden and cheese is bubbly (Optional: place under the broiler during the last few minutes for more browning, but be sure to watch closely!).
  • Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.