Mac and cheese that’s gush-worthy. This is what it is.
This Smoked Gouda and Pumpkin Mac and Cheese is creamy and tangy and orange and bright. It’s comfort food, seasonal, and Paleo-friendly. (Haha just kidding on the last one; Paleo friends, you might want to look away.)
It has a full can of pumpkin, a full cup of Greek yogurt, and I did use whole wheat macaroni, but I didn’t even try to fool myself into thinking that this is healthy. I can say that it’s healthier than regular mac and cheese, but make no mistake, each bite is a taste of pure indulgence. A cheesy, smoky, rich-tasting indulgence that I think you should all experience right away.
I wanted to make a hearty, pumpkin-based dish for my company’s Annual Halloween Party and Potluck last week, and this fits the bill perfectly. I’ve made a couple of versions of pumpkin mac and cheese before, but they were just okay (thus they never made it to the blog). But this recipe, oh this one, is a keeper.
The smoked gouda had a lot to do with it. I like smoky flavors but I don’t want it in overwhelming doses. The sharpness of the smoked gouda was tempered nicely by the mellow pumpkin puree and the tartness of the Greek yogurt.
I topped the whole dish off with more cheese – sharp cheddar – plus breadcrumbs and crumbles of crispy fried sage, a genius idea from Sues at We are Not Martha. I actually looked into two of my favorite blogs for inspiration for this dish, so my recipe is sort of like a lovechild of We Are Not Martha’s Pumpkin Mac and Cheese and Sugarlaws’ Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese.
I love the idea of using one big casserole and a couple of little ramekins – this way I can bring an untouched pan to the potluck, and have a couple of portion-controlled ones left for me.
The only problem is that it was so good, I was tempted to eat two ramekins worth in one sitting.
Smoked Gouda and Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
1 box (13.25 oz) whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups grated smoked gouda
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1/2 cup whole wheat Italian breadcrumbs (you can also use plain or panko)
10 sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large sauce pan or dutch oven. Add shallots and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt, stir until smooth, cooking for a minute.
Turn the heat down to medium low. Pour in the vegetable stock and cayenne pepper , stir until smooth, cooking for 3-5 minutes. Add in all of the gouda cheese and 1 cup of the sharp cheddar cheese, reserving 1/2 cup for later. Stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add cooked elbow macaroni to sauce, tossing gently to combine. Spoon onto a baking dish (and/or individual ramekins).
In a small frying pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Fry up the sage leaves for about 30 seconds on each side, then transfer to a cutting board and chop finely.
Top the macaroni with the remaining cheddar cheese, breadcrumbs and fried sage. Bake for 15 minutes and serve.
Now wait for the gushing compliments to come rolling in.
On another note, I received a fun Halloween treat last week from Equal Exchange (remember the chocolate and beer pairings I tried several months ago?). They sent over a couple of boxes of chocolates, which I shared with my co-workers and friends:
I tried a few of the milk chocolate minis, as well as the new Fair Trade candy bars. My favorite was the Milk Chocolate Crisp with Puffed Rice and Quinoa. (Yup, quinoa in a candy bar!) It reminded me of a Nestle crunch with a slight nuttiness from the quinoa. If you guys are interested in trying out the new Equal Exchange candy bars, you should check out their Candy Bar Game at their Facebook page, where you can enter to win a candy bar gift basket. You might be tempted to eat a couple of bars in one sitting.
But don’t. We’re all about individual portions and self-control here.
Except maybe when it comes to mac and cheese?