Whenever anyone asks me to name some of my favorite foods, macaroni and cheese is always at the top of the list. It’s such a simple dish but for me it’s the ultimate comfort food. When I was growing up, I was more than happy eating macaroni and cheese from a box. Nowadays I like to experiment with many different versions of the classic dish. I enjoy trying out combinations of different cheeses and stirring in various ingredients like caramelized onions, lobster, and truffle oil. I even make an Indian version called Masala Mac & Cheese.
I decided to make a healthier (but equally delicious) version of this comfort dish. Traditional macaroni and cheese is very high in fat and calories because it uses a lot of cheese and the sauce is typically made with butter and whole milk or cream. I made a few tweaks to the dish to lighten it up without sacrificing flavor.
To add color, creaminess and a healthy dose of nutrients, I decided to stir in an ingredient that’s everywhere this time of year- pumpkin. You don’t have to use fresh pumpkin- canned is just as good and it’s available all year round. Most people think of using pumpkin in sweet applications like pumpkin pie, muffins, and cakes but it actually works really well in savory dishes. Just one note- make sure you buy pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix, which is sweetened.