“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
What can be better than a bowl of home made Mac’N Cheese on a cool fall day? A heaping topping of crispy bacon-brussel sprouts with caramelized onion on top of that bad boy is what. Adding pumpkin to the cheese sauce makes it almost virtuous to have your Mac guilt free. The sauce gets a onctuous velvety texture with no cream, no thickening agents and less cheese. And pumpkin is so good for us! This Mac’N Cheese is easy to make and has fall in every delicious bite. It can even be served to company, it’s that good. Use strong flavored cheeses with good melting properties to balance the sweetness of the pumpkin in the sauce. I used smoked gouda and asiago in mine. For ease of execution, roast the brussel sprouts while the pasta is cooking so you can serve the Mac’N Cheese as soon as it is ready. An autumnal twist on a favorite classic.
Pumpkin Mac'N Cheese with Roasted Bacon Brussel Sprouts
For the Mac’N Cheese
- 1 pound of spiral pasta such as cellentani, cooked in salted water, al dente, drained
- 1 15-once can of pure pumpkin purée
- 1 and 3/4 cups of milk
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons of dehydrated minced onion
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 1/2 cups of grated aged white cheese(You want strong flavored cheeses with good melting properties; I used gouda and asiago)
- salt and pepper to taste
- pasta water
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and pumpkin with the butter, onion, nutmeg, garlic powder, salt and pepper, stirring until smooth and bubbling. Add the cheeses and stir over low heat until melted. Add a bit of pasta water to thin the sauce if needed. For extra flavor, you could splash a bit of white wine or chicken stock instead of pasta water.
- Toss the hot pasta with the cheese sauce.
For the Brussel Sprouts
- 2 pounds of brussel sprouts, cored and halved
- half of a large red onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 4 slices of bacon
- fresh ground pepper
- balsamic vinegar to drizzle on top
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil. Toss the brussel sprouts and onions with the olive oil. Spread 1 layer across the pan. Cut the bacon in small pieces and toss on top of the sprouts. Sprinkle with ground pepper.
- Roast on the lower rack for about 40 minutes, tossing at the half point mark to ensure even roasting. You want the brussel sprouts and the bacon nice and crispy, including scraping all those tasty crispy bits from the pan!
Fill bowls with the Mac’N Cheese and top with the brussel sprouts. Drizzle with some balsamic vinegar to finish.