As temperatures drop and the wind chills your skin, there are few things better at warming you up than comfort food. Fats and carbs mix together with the wonderful familiarity that comes with favorite foods to heat the body and soul.
I asked one of East’s culinary teachers, Ms. Scharbert for an autumnal suggestion and she recommended Smoked Gouda and Pumpkin Mac and Cheese. A more grown up adaptation of the familiar favorite brings fall flavors to maximize the comfort that this recipe and season brings.
While the pumpkin may seem intimidating, it’s not difficult to cook with or prepare. It melts into the sauce to create rich and complex flavors that will feel familiar to some. The pumpkin contributes to the overall richness of the sauce. It combines with the variety of cheeses and yogurt to add depth and complexity. Its mild flavor added just enough to make it a “fall recipe” without going over the top with the flavor tropes that come with the season.
In my rendition of the recipe I opted for a cheese topping instead of the breadcrumbs that were suggested in the original recipe and I think there is plenty of opportunity for personalization in this recipe. The base of the sauce is relatively mild and gives the opportunit to layer a variety of flavors.
So, if you find yourself cooped up on a cloudy fall day, I would suggest making this recipe with a friend or two. It is beginner friendly but extra hands are always helpful in the kitchen and the recipe makes enough to share. I think there are few better ways to spend your autumn afternoon than with a bowl of mac and cheese and a friend.
1 lb. macaroni noodles
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 small shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 c. 2% plain Greek yogurt
1 c. vegetable stock
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ½ c. grated smoked gouda
1 ½ c. grated sharp cheddar
½ c. Italian bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pan and cook pasta.
- Prepare garlic/shallots.
- Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add shallots and cook until translucent.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt, stir until smooth, cooking for a minute.
- Turn the heat down to medium low. Pour in the vegetable stock and cayenne pepper, stir until smooth, cooking for 3 minutes.
- Add in all of the gouda cheese and 1 cup of the sharp cheddar cheese, reserving 1/2 cup for later. Stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add cooked elbow macaroni to sauce, tossing gently to combine.
- Spoon mixture into an 8×11 baking dish.
- Top the macaroni with the remaining cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 15 minutes and serve.
Maureen Zywicki is a staff writer for Oswego East’s online news magazine The Howl