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Pumpkin and Sage Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin and Sage Mac and Cheese

This mac and cheese includes a veggie (pumpkin!) and elevates an old-school flavor with unexpected spices and pancetta.

Cheesy, crunchy, and creamy - this Pumpkin and Sage Mac and Cheese might be your new favorite fall recipe.

Ingredients: 

1 pound elbow macaroni
4 ounces pancetta, diced
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
¼ cup flour
3 cups milk
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 ½ cups shredded gruyere 
24 buttery crackers (Ritz crackers are preferred)
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Recipe directions: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and coat a 3-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add the macaroni. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until al-dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and remove all but 1 teaspoon of the remaining fat from the skillet.

In the same skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the garlic and sage. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute, then slowly add the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth and thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the pumpkin, dry mustard, paprika, pepper, and salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses and the cooked pancetta. Add the macaroni and the reserved pasta water to the skillet and stir to coat the pasta in sauce. 

Pour the macaroni into the prepared baking dish. Top with the crackers, dot with 2 tablespoons butter, and sprinkle with garlic salt. Bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly and browned.

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