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Playing How to Make Quick Pumpkin Mac & Cheese with Spiced Pepitas by Rachael

Fiber-rich canned pumpkin get stirred into the cheese sauce, then it gets a little kick from Mexican chorizo (spicy ground pork sausage)—and the whole thing is topped with crunchy pumpkin seeds.

Adapted from Rachael Ray Every Day, November 2018.

Ingredients

For the Spiced Pepitas:
  • 1 cup fresh pepitas
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
  • Pinch sugar
  • Salt, to taste
For the Mac & Cheese:
  • Salt
  • 1 pound macaroni, medium pasta shells, or elbow pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) pure pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon (about ⅓ palmful) granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon (about ⅓ palmful) dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • White pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg (no more than ⅛ teaspoon each), to taste
  • About 3 cups freshly grated yellow cheddar (¾ pound)
  • 2 ounces (about 1 cup) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Finely chopped chives, for serving

Yield

Serves: 4

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375˚F.  

For the pepitas, in a bowl, toss pepitas with melted butter, spices, sugar and salt. Spread seeds evenly onto a baking sheet and roast 10-15 minutes or until they begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the mac & cheese, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 to 2 minutes shy of the package directions.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil, one turn of the pan, over medium-high. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat renders and the meat is light brown; drain on a paper towel-lined plate

In a large skillet or medium pot, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, then slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a bubble. Cook, whisking often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in the pumpkin. Add the granulated garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, white pepper, and nutmeg; season with salt. Add the cheeses. Stir in a figure-eight motion until the cheeses melt into the sauce, a minute or two.

Scoop out ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta and chorizo to the sauce. Add the cooking water a little at a time if the sauce is too thick. Top with chives and spiced pepitas.