Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese

Fall has become synonymous with pumpkins – anything and everything pumpkin imaginable. There are many other flavors and foods I enjoy in the fall months but the obsession with pumpkin does hearken to seasonality. Not only are pumpkins in season but so are brussels sprouts, carrots, sage, rutabagas and a myriad of squash and gourds. Early fall is a time for a shifting of gears from tomatoes, cucumbers and the like to the fall crops.

That being said, I do love pumpkin. We tend polarize it more than other squash varieties by relegating it to pies, breads and lattes; rather than restricting this gourd, we should let it’s versatility shine. Many years ago, I remember watching Food Network’s Ellie Krieger put together a beautiful macaroni and cheese in which she incorporated squash puree to sneak in vegetables. After stocking up on pumpkin puree this dish came to mind and I decided to try my hand at a pumpkin macaroni and cheese. With classic Southern mac & cheese in mind, I put together what I thought would a full-bodied pumpkin version and I was not disappointed. The result was deliciously creamy, cheesy and rich albeit not low in fat by any means but that’s okay with me;

Finished Product (2)

Ingredients

10 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni or mini penne
1 1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c dry white wine
1/4 c unsalted chicken stock
1 c milk
1/2 c cream
2 oz. pancetta, choppped
1/2 shallot, chopped
1/2 c ricotta
1/8 t cardamom
1 t dijon mustard
1 pinch salt
1/4 t chili powder
1 t rosemary, finely chopped
1 c sharp cheddar, finely grated
1/4 c Jarlsberg, finely grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 c shaved Parmesan
2 slices deli cheese, provolone or swiss

Instructions

Heat oven to 375F.

Cook pasta until al dente, drain and set aside.

In a small pan, saute chopped shallot and pancetta. Set aside.

Chopped Pancetta Chopped Shallots

In a large saucepan, bring white wine and chicken stock to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and stir in pumpkin, milk, ricotta, shallots and pancetta. Allow to cook over medium for about 15 minutes; stir in cardamom, dijon, rosemary, chili powder, salt and pepper. Temper beaten eggs with sauce (so as not to scramble); then add to sauce.

Tempering Eggs

Slowly stir in sharp cheddar and Jarlsberg until combined. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce.

Adding Cheese to Sauce

Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Set aside. Pour pasta and sauce into a 9×9 baking dish. Tear apart slices of deli cheese and add place on top of pasta. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and Parmesan over top.

Cheese Breadcrumb Topping

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Serve hot.

Finished Product

Servings Given

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Black Bean Espresso Chili

Well I believe it’s safe to say that fall weather is officially here in South Carolina, which means late spring temperatures in the afternoon and winter temperatures at night. With that said, our low here in the Lowcountry was in the forties Sunday night and into Monday morning. When the weather turns chilly, what better to warm you up than soup or stew, or how about chili? I decided to go the chili route.

The wonderful thing about chili is that is that it’s infinitely adjustable and this recipe is something I scrapped together from my pantry and took very little effort. The espresso adds a mysterious smoky zip that’s complimented by a dash of cinnamon. The pumpkin doesn’t stand out on its own, but rather works to add thickness and depth (no, it won’t taste like pumpkin spice chili). I added a little more spice than I recorded, simply because my hunny loves him some hot chili. The way it’s recorded is more to my taste but it’s equally good extra spicy. I have to admit this was pretty addictive – I already have requests to make this again.

 Served with Shrimp

Black Bean Espresso Chili

3 T olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 16 oz can unseasoned black beans, drained
1 17.64 oz box rustic chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 c pumpkin puree
1-2 c water
1 1/2 T instant espresso powder
2 T chili paste
2 T cayenne
1/4 t cinnamon
1 t cumin
3 T fresh cilantro, chopped, plus extra for serving
1/2 t black pepper
1 1/2 T Sriracha
Plain Greek yogurt to serve, optional
1 1/2 T green onion, chopped, to serve, optional
In a large saucepan, cook red onion over medium heat until just softened. Add garlic and cook until golden.

Sautee Onion

Add black beans, tomatoes, pumpkin puree and water; stir well to combine and bring to a low boil for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and ad espresso, chili paste, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, Sriracha and cilantro.

Add Tomatoes

Add Chili Paste

Cover and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, checking for sticking and stirring every few minutes.

Serve topped with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, cilantro and green onion. I added sauteed shrimp to mine as well, you know for extra protein and just because I love me some skrumps.


Served with Shrimp