It might still be blissfully warm here in sunny Malta, but I just can’t help thinking about getting all cosy as the end of October draws near. There’s something about Halloween looming on the horizon that makes me think not just of pumpkins, but of soul-warming soups and stews too. And when it comes to ultimate comfort food, nothing gets even close to a delicious, steaming bowl of macaroni cheese. Here’s my latest October recipe, zhuzhed up with pumpkin for that autumnal vibe. I present, pumpkin mac & cheese!
Ultimate Comfort Food Pumpkin Mac & Cheese Recipe
Prep Time: 10mins
Cook Time: 40mins
- 800g pumpkin cubes
- 1.5 tbsp. olive oil
- 340g macaroni pasta
- 300g smoked bacon medallions, chopped (optional, omit for vegetarian option)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 tbsp. plain flour
- 375ml skimmed milk
- 150ml vegetable stock (I use 1 pot of Knorr’s veg stock pot)
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- 200g kale
- 140g grated mature Cheddar
- 115g grated Gouda
- 2 tbsp. grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Line a large baking tray with foil, and coat lightly with half a tablespoon of olive oil.
Roast the pumpkin cubes for around 30-35 mins until soft. When cooled down slightly, have some fun and puree until smooth with a hand blender. Add up to 3 tbsp of water if needed to achieve a puree.
Cook the pasta according to instructions on packaging in salted water. Drain, and set aside.
If using bacon, heat a large, dry pan over high heat and cook it until browned, about 4-5 mins, then also set aside.
Using the same pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, next add the flour and cook another minute, or until well combined. Slowly add in milk and stock and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes until it thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper, and nutmeg.
Once it begins to thicken, stir in the pumpkin puree and add in the kale. Cook until pumpkin is heated through and kale has wilted. Remove from the heat, add cheeses and mix well until drool-inducingly melted.
Add the cooked macaroni and bacon and give it a good stir to mix well. Serve seasoned with freshly ground pepper and tuck in!
Super easy, right? Plus you get all the heart-warming, comfort food feeling of regular mac & cheese with far less of the guilt. Comfort food doesn’t have to be ‘bad’ food – it absolutely is possible to fit your favourites into your plan. Eating is meant to be enjoyable, remember? Now go enjoy this. Go on. Off you go.