Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

What happens when you mix pumpkin puree into a hot pot of bechamel sauce? Magic. Stir in two different kinds of cheese, nutmeg, and top it with buttery garlic breadcrumbs and you have an irresistable autumnal pasta bake. It can be assembled ahead of time, refrigerated, and baked off to serve.

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese with Garlicky Bread Crumbs

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
What happens when you mix pumpkin puree into a hot pot of bechamel sauce? Magic. Stir in two different kinds of cheese, nutmeg, and top it with buttery garlic breadcrumbs and you have an irresistable autumnal pasta bake. It can be assembled ahead of time, refrigerated, and baked off to serve.
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Course Main Course
Servings 8

Ingredients
 

  • 4 cups whole milk, slightly warmed
  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus more for buttering the dish
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 14- ounce can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 5 ounces grated gruyere cheese, or use mild white cheddar
  • 8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound short pasta, such as cavatappi or fusilli

For the topping:

  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped or grated
  • ½ cup grated parmigiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 375 F. Use 1 tablespoon of butter to coat a 9 x 12 inch baking dish.
  • Prepare your topping. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and salt. Melt the butter and take off the heat. Add the garlic to the butter, then pour over the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and season liberally with salt.
  • Meanwhile, make your sauce. In a medium saucepan, warm the butter and garlic together over low heat until the butter is melted. Let it cook for one minute, then add the flour and stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the milk, slowly, whisking the whole time to avoid lumps. Turn the heat up to medium and whisk constantly until the milk thickens and just comes to a simmer. Let it cook at a low boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times, until it is the consistency of very thick cream. Whisk in the pumpkin, maple syrup, nutmeg and salt and cook for another minute.
  • Remove from the heat, switch to a heat-proof spatula, and stir in the cheeses and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Boil the pasta according to package directions, draining it when it is al dente, about 2 minutes shy of being done. Combine it with the sauce and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.
  • Combine with the pasta and pour into your pan. Scatter the bread crumbs on top and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is toasted and browned. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

The dish can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake. Add on 10 minutes of baking time if coming cold from the fridge.
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