So when the teen was a toddler, she and I would have Kraft’s Mac’n Cheese for lunch a couple of times a week. Ooooh yes!!! Well, I was young, boxed food had an appeal like no other as I ( like most of us) never got to eat any of that growing up in India, also it was very convenient.
Thankfully that phase didn’t last long… as better sense prevailed and gradually processed foods were bid adieu to, I realized how much better our beloved mac’n cheese tasted when made from scratch. I make many versions now, but Pumpkin Mac’ n Cheese one, my dear friends, hits the ball out of the park!
Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese is a healthier variant, but wonderfully creamy and cheesy. The sauce is smooth and rich but only seemingly so. Garlic, thyme, smoked paprika add plenty of spice and flavor. I love the pop of color that spinach imparts while nutritionally enriching the dish. If you’re looking for a quick, healthy, cozy meal, this is it!
I like to serve it with a bowl of sauteed vegetables on the side, sometimes with a piece of grilled chicken or if I’m feeling particularly indulgent, then some pan-fried sausages really take it to the top! On the other hand, if you want to keep it vegan, just leave out the cheese. It’s just as good, I promise. And hey, if you want a baked version, simply sprinkle some cheese and breadcrumbs on top and bake till golden and bubbly. One recipe, so many adaptations…take your pick and enjoy a delectable dinner. Eating well is indeed easy and amazingly delicious!
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Pumpkin Mac 'n Cheese
- 800 gms Pumpkin Diced
- 2 Onions Diced
- 8 cloves Garlic
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 500 ml Coconut milk I used light
- 500 gms Macaroni or any small pasta
- 1 tsp Dried thyme
- 1 Red chilli
- 50 gms Parmesan cheese Freshly grated
- 2 tsp Smoked paprika
- 300 gms Spinach Chopped roughly
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pre heat the oven to 200C.
- Toss the pumpkin, onions, garlic, red chilli, turmeric and thyme with olive oil. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, till the pumpkin is soft and cooked through.
- In the meanwhile, cook the macaroni till al dente in plenty of salted water. Drain well. Save one cup of pasta water for later use.
- For the sauce: Blend together the roasted vegetables and coconut milk in your blender until smooth.
- Pour out in a saucepan and season the sauce with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Let it come to a gentle boil.
- Add the cooked pasta and spinach. Cook for a further 4-5 minutes. If the sauce seems to thick, add some of that pasta water you'd saved. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Gently stir in the parmesan cheese and serve warm. Enjoy!