This is the easiest and most delicious recipe we can think of for fall comfort food… straight from the garden sugar pumpkins, baked, pureed, and blended with a bit of pasta and cheese to make a bowl full of ultimate fall yummy goodness!
Of course, you could open the traditional can of pureed pumpkin but once you make your own and discover how amazingly delicious and easy fresh-made is, you’ll never shop the can again.
Step 1—Make the Puree:
• Using one or two garden-harvested or farmer’s market sugar pumpkins, about 4-6lbs. Heat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and dry your little pumpkins and cut in half, making sure that you cut off the top stem piece first.
• Scoop out all the seeds and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper and a tiny dash of homemade pumpkin spice. Place the seasoned pumpkin halves skin-up on the baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes until the pieces are soft and easily pierced with a knife.
• Cool until easy to handle and scoop the soft flesh away from the skin into a food processor. Process until smooth and pudding-like, about 3-5 minutes.
• Make a pie, make some pasta, make anything you would have made with the ubiquitous can puree, only fresher and far tastier.
• PS: Don’t throw away the seeds, clean them by adding to a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, drain, rinse, dry thoroughly, toss with a bit of oil, and season with savory herbs or sweet pumpkin spice. Spread in a single layer on a roasting pan and bake until crisp and slightly browned. Snack away!
Step 2—Make the Mac & Cheese:
Now that you have your easy pumpkin puree, make the ultimate comfort food by turning it into everyone’s favorite mac-n-cheese. Ready in less than an hour, it’s a wonderful dish to warm up any cold autumn dinner!
• 1-lb pasta shells, elbows, or bow ties are best
• 4 tbsp unsalted butter
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups milk
• ½ tsp each sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 tsp mustard powder
• 1 cup your homemade pumpkin puree
• 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese or a mix of your favorite cheeses
• Heat oven to 350° and spray a 3-qt casserole dish lightly with cooking spray.
• Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and cook pasta. Drain and set aside.
• Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it begins to froth, sprinkle with flour, and whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes until a nice nutty-brown roux is formed. Continue whisking while slowly adding milk until sauce thickens. Slowly whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and mustard powder. Stir in the pumpkin puree until mixed. Finally, add the grated cheese and stir until rich and creamy.
• Fold in the pasta and once well coated, spoon into prepared baking dish and top with a bit of extra cheese and bread crumbs if desired.
• Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let stand 5-10 minutes, serve, and enjoy!