If you are looking for a unique twist on a classic dish, look no further. This pumpkin mac and cheese is a wonderful way to add a nutritional boost to your usual mac and... cheese recipe. Pumpkins are rich in carotenoids, particularly alpha- and beta-carotene, high in fiber, and provide 100% of your daily value of vitamin A in just one serving. This creamy, delicious dish is not only perfect for a fall dinner but also contains 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of dietary fiber.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 6-cup baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, and toss to combine. Set mixture aside.
In a large pot, boil 4 quarts of water. Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes, until slightly al dente. Drain in colander, and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, heat the milk in a microwave or small saucepan until it steams, and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking slowly. Remove from heat and gradually add the milk while whisking to avoid lumps. Return the pot to medium-high heat and simmer the sauce until it thickens to consistency of stirred yogurt, about 3 minutes.
Add cheddar cheese, pumpkin, mustard, black and cayenne peppers and nutmeg (optional), and stir until the cheese has melted completely. Mix the cooked pasta into the cheese mixture.
Spread the mac and cheese in prepared baking dish, and sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb-Parmesan-cheese mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately.