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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Wilkinson

Pumpkin Sage Mac & Cheese

"Do you want to make the mac & cheese for this weekend?" My mom knew the answer I'd give before she even asked. Macaroni and cheese is one of those foods that I could eat every day, if only it matched lettuce in caloric value. And there is absolutely no reason to settle for the expected yellow sauced elbow noodles each time you indulge. So take advantage of the gourd-geous autumn bounty and throw some pumpkin in there! Or any other squash that tickles your fancy works too.

I whipped this batch up to share with my family over the weekend, during an outdoor get together. A huge bonfire, several slow cookers of yumminess, and maple bourbon spiked cider made the chilly day hardly noticeable. But getting together with family always makes one warm, right?



-1lb pasta (I love fusilli or rotini for mac)

-1/2 lb butter, divided (1 stick)

-1 large sweet onion*

-1/8 cup Madeira wine (or white cooking wine)

-2 T all-purpose flour

-1/2 tsp ground sage

-2.5 cups half & half, room temperature*

-7oz block of white cheddar or Gruyere*

-8 slices white american cheese, torn

-1 cup pumpkin puree (or preferred gourd)

-4-5 fresh sage leaves


Cut onion into thing slices. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, and cook onions on low until caramelized- about 15-20 minutes. If onions begin to brown too quickly, add a few splashes of water or broth. Add 1/8 cup of Madeira wine in the last 4-5 minutes of cooking.

While onions are cooking, make pasta and sauce. In a pot of salted water, cook pasta until al dente, drain and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Set both aside.

Heat a large sauce pan with high sides, and melt 6 tablespoons butter. Allow to brown slightly, then sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Stir on medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes, so the flour cooks slightly.

In a slow stream, whisking constantly, pour in half & half. Whisk continuously until all lumps are dissolved. Allow mixture to cook on low until thickened and sauce coats the back of a spoon. Turn off heat.

When caramely and soft, add the finished onions to the sauce mixture. Add another tablespoon of butter, and fry sage leaves for 1-2 minutes, until crispy and brown. Chop or leave whole for garnish.

To the sauce mixture, stir in ground sage, both cheeses, and pumpkin puree until smooth and combined. Toss with cooked pasta, and add splashes of reserved pasta water to loosen. If not serving immediately, keep the pasta water on hand and stir in some more before plating.

You can also bake this in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, topped with some more shredded Gruyere.

Garnish with fried sage leaves, yelling "BAM!" like Emeril.


*Sub shallots for more of an oniony punch. I'd use 4-5 and fry a few for garnish on top.

*You can use a plant-based milk here, you'll just lose a bit of fat & creaminess. Would love to hear how yours turns out!

*The biggest note is to shred your own cheese. Don't use pre-shredded, or it won't melt nearly as well, due to the chalky anti-stick coating added to pre-shredded cheeses.

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