Pumpkin Mac & Cheese: Tips To Ace This Perfect Fall Dinner Dish
Image Credit: A bowl of pumpkin mac and cheese

Sneaking veggies into your dinner is so much easier in the fall. Your mac and cheese can be a lot more nutritious and filling if you're creative enough. And what fall superstar is better than pumpkin to add a healthy kick to your comfort meal? If you like pumpkin but aren't sure about how to use it for dinner, pumpkin mac and cheese is one of the easiest things you can make. 

Not only are pumpkins very easy to cook with but they also make for a creamy, consistent sauce that actually lets you cut down on the cheese you use for a typical mac and cheese dish. When puréed and combined with cream cheese, mascarpone and parmesan, the pumpkin makes for a silky, delicious pasta sauce. 

If you're not good with cutting raw pumpkins, scooping out seeds or dressing them, simply use a canned pumpkin or a pumpkin puree. If you're using raw pumpkin, make sure to roast it before blending it into a paste, so the slight smokiness travels into your pasta. 

Pumpkin's natural sweetness is a great addition to the dish since it leaves room for some elevated seasoning. You can easily add some sharp spices to round out the flavours, even some nutmeg or mustard. You can also use a butternut squash if you don't find fresh, seasonal pumpkins. 

If you're planning a baked mac and cheese or are planning to use it in a casserole-type pasta dish, make sure you pick a smaller pumpkin which is ideal for baking. However, the easier version would be a one-pot mac and cheese since it would be ready sooner. Unlike most mac and cheese recipes, pumpkin mac and cheese isn’t made with a roux and doesn't need a thickening agent either. A one-pot pumpkin pasta can be cooked directly in the pan and does need straining. It's best to prepare the pureed pumpkin separately so it can thicken properly.

American chef and food writer James Kenji López-Alt has a great hack for blending the cheese with the pumpkin. The chef adds the assorted grated cheese to cornstarch and adds it to evaporated milk, to achieve the right consistency, before adding in the pasta. So, if you're planning to try your hands at the delicious fall recipe, here are a few things to keep in mind: For a stovetop mac and cheese, don't over-melt the cheese. 

After putting in the pasta, stir for roughly two minutes and shut the gas. The residual heat should cook the pasta quite well. It's best to use cheese grated at home because pre-shredded cheese tends to melt more slowly. Pre-grated cheese contains potato starch and natamycin to keep the shreds from clumping together and as a result, it takes longer to melt. Sharp cheddars are your best bet for pumpkin mac and cheese. 

Pumpkin has a delicate profile which may not go well with any aged or savoury cheese. A store-bought block of cheddar can easily be your base cheese since it melts well and is also easy to fold into the dish. Don't miss out on a chance to get creative with cheeses. Flavorful cheeses like Gruyere work great in the recipe owing to its light nutty flavour. Gouda, Muenster, Parmesan, and Monterey Jack varieties work better than brie or camembert. However, if you are running low on time stick to any two American white cheeses and one cream cheese.