Baked Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Spinach & Tomato
Holy macaroni is this good! I don’t know what it is about putting a little pumpkin puree in the cheese sauce, but it adds a level of earthy richness to the creamy macaroni and cheese that is just sublime. It’s the ultimate comfort food.
I am totally in love with this dish. We are talkin’ head over heels here. It’s satisfying. It’s healthy. It’s beautiful. What more does a girl need?
Well, okay, maybe a little piece of chocolate … and a glass of wine … and … um … a little more? Yes, please.
Baked Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese with Spinach and Tomato
Adapted from Brokeass Gourmet
- 2 c. dry elbow macaroni, penne, shells or other small pasta shape (I used Ronzoni SmartTaste Penne with Calcium, Vitamin D and Fiber)
- 2 T. finely chopped onion
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup milk (any kind … I used 2%)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (I used 1/2 cup because that’s all I had left of the pumpkin I baked … her recipe called for 3/4 cup pumpkin.)
- 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a mix of swiss & asiago with a little mixed mexican on top for color … she used aged cheddar. Experiment with your favorite cheese(s)!)
- A dash of nutmeg
- Salt (or Red Robin Seasoning!) and pepper to taste
- A few tablespoons of breadcrumbs
- 1 medium sized tomato, diced
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a small casserole dish or individual ramekins/oven proof bowls with cooking spray.
- Cook macaroni in salted boiling water according to package directions.
- While macaroni cooks, melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sautee.
- As soon as it begins to brown, add the flour and whisk until you have a very sticky dough.
- Slowly whisk in the milk to form a creamy white sauce. (Honestly I got a phone call while I was making the sauce and I just used a spoon and stirred … and it turned out just fine.)
- Continue whisking (or stirring!) as you add the pumpkin and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese. You should have a very creamy sauce. Season with nutmeg, Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and pepper.
- Microwave the spinach to thaw, then press out the extra liquid using a clean towel so the spinach is not so wet. Mix the spinach into the cheese sauce.
- Drain the pasta and return it to its pot. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the sauce over the pasta and stir to coat the pasta evenly.
- Scrape the sauced pasta into the prepared casserole or ramekins Make sure not to miss any of that glorious sauce!
- Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, then top with the reserved cheese. Then just before you pop it in the oven, scatter those lovely tomatoes over the top.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the cheese is very bubbly and lightly browned on top. Serve hot.
I could seriously not wait to eat this. Usually I would have paused for a photo shoot before digging in. It took all my willpower to force myself to wait a minute while I quickly snapped a few shots. I didn’t bother with the outdoor shoot that I usually do. Can you see my computers and my phone in the background there? Yeah, I didn’t stop to clean the clutter off the table either.