The Best Pumpkin Macaroni and “Cheese”
This Pumpkin Macaroni and ‘Cheese’ is creamy, comforting and perfect for fall. It’s dairy-free and vegan, and it can easily be served with your favorite gluten-free pasta!
Are you guys ready for this? Because things are about to get real comfy up in here.
This macaroni is like a big blanket, just waiting to snuggle with you.
It’s creamy, cheesy, and a little smoky with a hint of savory pumpkin flavor.
Occasionally I like to reach out to you guys on Facebook for inspiration and when I asked for fall recipes ideas one of my dear readers suggested a dairy-free pumpkin cream sauce. Well I just want to take a minute to thank Melissa for the brilliant idea because I am seriously in love with this sauce.
I haven’t met her in-person but I know she works full-time and has a family to feed so I wanted to keep the recipe super simple by using canned pumpkin puree.
Of course, if you have the time to roast a pumpkin and make your own then by all means feel free to do that too!
So we start by cooking the macaroni (I used whole wheat fusilli but you can substitute your favorite gluten-free pasta) in a large pot and then set it aside in a strainer.
Then, in the same pot, we cook the shallot with some garlic and add in the seasonings: smoked paprika, dried sage, and tumeric.
The tumeric doesn’t add a noticeable flavor but I wanted to sneak it in there for it’s awesome anti-inflammatory properties. However, you can leave it out if you don’t have any on hand.
After that we add the canned pumpkin with vegetable broth and let it cook at a low boil for about 5 minutes. Then we transfer it to a blender with plain unsweetened almond milk (you can use rice milk for a nut-free version) and nutritional yeast, then blend until it’s smooth and creamy.
Then we grab the same pot again (less dishes!) and sauté a little bit of chopped kale with shallot and a splash of vegetable broth, add the macaroni back to the pot along with the sauce, stir it all together and comforting pumpkin pasta perfection is served!
I obviously went for more of a cheesy flavor with this recipe because I wanted something that could be made nut-free and without a high speed blender, however you can always adapt it by using less nutritional yeast, about 1/4 cup.
Even without the nuts, the texture is still nice and creamy thanks to the pumpkin, which also happens to meld wonderfully with the cheesy flavor.
It’s funny, I would have never thought that I would like a pumpkin mac n’ cheese but this recipe definitely proved me wrong. I can’t even begin to describe how good it is. You guys have to give this one a try for yourself!
1 pound macaroni of choice (preferably whole grain)*
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, diced (approx. 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (approx. 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon tumeric (optional)
1 head of kale, stem removed and roughly chopped (approx. 2 cups)
15 ounces pumpkin purée (1 can or approx. 2 cups)
1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon + 1/2 cup reserved pasta water**
1/2 cup unsweetened plain non-dairy milk (such as almond, cashew, soy or rice milk)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
salt & pepper to taste
chopped fresh sage for topping (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a large pinch of fine sea salt and cook the pasta as directed. I like to prep my veggies (shallot, garlic and kale) while I wait for the pasta to cook. Once the pasta is tender, remove it from the heat and drain in a strainer, reserving 1/2 cup of the water. Add 1 teaspoon of the vegetable bouillon to the 1/2 cup of water to create the vegetable broth then set aside. Note: You can use vegetable broth instead but the sauce will be slightly less creamy.
- Place the empty pot back on the burner over low to medium heat then pour in one tablespoon of the olive oil. Add 1/2 cup of the shallot and all of the garlic then cook for 3 minutes. Next add the seasonings (smoked paprika, sage, tumeric, and a pinch of salt & pepper), stir together and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Pour the pumpkin puree into the pot along with 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth and bring to a low boil. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, continuing to stir, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Stir the milk into the pot to help cool down the pumpkin mixture then transfer it to a blender. Add the nutritional yeast to the blender and blend on high until smooth, for about 15 seconds. Taste the sauce and add salt & pepper, as desired to your preferences.
- Rinse the pot you used to cook the pumpkin mixture then return it to the burner over low to medium heat. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining 1/2 cup of diced shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the chopped kale along with the remaining 1/4 cup vegetable broth and cook for 5 more minutes, until kale has wilted.
- Lastly, add the cooked pasta back to the pot and pour in the pumpkin sauce. Stir until the macaroni is evenly coated. Serve warm with chopped fresh sage (optional) and enjoy!
*Kelli suggested serving the sauce over spaghetti squash for a grain-free option in the comments which I think is a brilliant idea. Click Here for directions on how to roast spaghetti squash.
**Be sure to use a high quality vegetable bouillon for optimal results. I personally like Better Than Bouillon's Vegetable Base. Adding that to the reserved pasta water helps create a really creamy and flavorful sauce. If you can't find bouillon, you can use 1/2 vegetable broth instead.