It’s pumpkin season (!!) and I haven’t been able to shake the idea of pumpkin pasta from my mind since I spotted the first pumpkins at the grocery store. Friends, let’s make creamy, dreamy pumpkin mac ‘n’ cheese!
Origins of Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Mac ‘n’ cheese is the ultimate comfort food! But where did it come from?
It’s believed that the earliest written recipe for a dish resembling mac ‘n’ cheese comes from a 13th century cookbook from southern Italy. The dish (named de lasanis) was made with squares of fermented lasagne dough layered with spices and cheese.
But maybe that’s not what you picture when you hear mac ‘n’ cheese? The dish has been modified in many ways over time!
It’s thought that mac ‘n’ cheese was first introduced in the US when Thomas Jefferson brought back a pasta machine from his travels in Italy. Or perhaps that it originated from a popular New England church dish called macaroni pudding. Then in 1937, Kraft released their boxed mac ‘n’ cheese and it quickly gained popularity because of its affordability.
Our plant-based, pumpkin-infused version has all the comfort but without the dairy!
How to Make Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese
This easy pumpkin pasta requires just 10 ingredients and simple methods. I even show you how to roast a pumpkin so you can impress your friends and family with this from-scratch meal. (Or buy canned pumpkin to save time!)
Once your pumpkin is roasted, it’s time to make the sauce, which is a simple mixture of ingredients like sage, garlic, nutritional yeast, almond milk, and vegan parmesan cheese. I added a pinch of pumpkin pie spice to add some warmth and spice as well as an optional pinch of red pepper flake for some heat.
Once you cook your pasta, all that’s left to do is mix it with your sauce and serve! I opted to sprinkle on more vegan parmesan cheese, broil for a crusty topping, and garnish it with a bit of sautéed sage (which I consider extra-fancy but nonessential touches).
I hope you all LOVE this pasta! It’s:
Easy to make
& Super delicious
This would make the perfect meal when you’re craving something hearty yet healthy this fall and winter. It would also make a beautiful holiday entrée or side dish. While it’s delicious on its own, it would also pair well with this Creamy Kale Salad with Chickpeas & Shallots, Apple Pecan Arugula Salad, or Oil-Free Roasted Vegetables!
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Creamy Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese
- 1 (2-3 lb) sugar or pie pumpkin (or sub 2 cups (450 g) canned pumpkin puree*)
- 1 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil (optional )
- 2 cloves garlic*
- 2 Tbsp arrowroot starch
- 1-1 1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond or rice milk (start with lower end of range)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2-3 Tbsp chopped sage or thyme (I used half thyme, half sage)
- 4-5 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3-4 Tbsp vegan parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flake or cayenne pepper (optional)
- Vegan parmesan cheese
- Fresh sage sautéed in oil over medium heat for 1 minute or until just slightly browned
- Pine nuts
- If baking your pumpkin, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Otherwise, if using canned pumpkin puree, skip to step 4.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the tops of your pumpkin off and then cut pumpkin in half. Use a sharp spoon or ice cream scoop to scrape out all the seeds and strings. (Save the seeds for roasting!)
- Optional: Brush the flesh with a neutral, high heat oil, such as avocado. And place flesh down on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the skin. In the last 20 minutes of roasting, add the two cloves of garlic still in skin to the baking sheet to slightly brown and soften. Then remove pan from the oven and let the pumpkin cool. Also peel garlic cloves and set aside.
- If serving with pasta, start boiling water and cooking pasta at this time. Once pasta is cooked, drain and set aside. Optional: I like to drizzle mine with a little olive or avocado oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and vegan parmesan cheese for extra flavor.
- To make the sauce, add 2 cups (as recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) baked pumpkin (or pumpkin puree) to a high-speed blender along with peeled roasted garlic, arrowroot starch, dairy-free milk (starting with amount at lower end of range), sea salt, sage or thyme (I used both), nutritional yeast, vegan parmesan cheese, pumpkin pie spice, and red pepper flake (optional).
- Blend on high until creamy and smooth. Then taste and adjust flavor as needed. Add more salt for saltiness, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, sage or thyme for herbiness, vegan parmesan cheese for depth of flavor, pumpkin pie spice for pumpkin flavor and warmth, or red pepper flake for spice (optional).
- To heat/thicken the sauce, pour into a rimmed skillet and heat over medium-low heat, whisking frequently until sauce is hot and slightly thickened – 3-5 minutes. If it gets too thick, thin with a bit more dairy-free milk.
- To serve, add cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Serve as is or (optional) sprinkle with 2 Tbsp (10 g // as recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) vegan parmesan cheese and broil on medium for 1-3 minutes, watching very carefully until barely browned.
- Enjoy hot and garnish with pine nuts or sautéed sage if desired. Cool leftovers and store in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days.
*If using canned pumpkin puree, add the garlic raw to the blender or sauté in 1 Tbsp oil for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat before blending.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without additional toppings.