CARROT AND PUMPKIN MAC 'N' CHEESE BY CLARE SCRINE - THE SHARED TABLE
Despite its incredibly rich and creamy flavour, this pasta bake is loaded full of veggies and won’t make you feel completely ill upon consumption. It’s a perfect weeknight meal, but equally great to bring to a potluck or shared dinner with some friends. You could even add some extra veggies to the sauce if you have some that need using up. Light coloured veggies would be best so as not to offset the yellow mac ‘n’ cheese look- think mushrooms, peeled zucchini eggplant, fennel, leek or potatoes. Just add them in with the carrots at the beginning and make sure they’re soft before blending. You can obviously use any kind of pasta if you don’t have macaroni. I’ve used some rigatoni, one of my absolute favourite pasta shapes. I’ve topped my bake with some sage from the garden, which makes a lovely addition- thyme or oregano would be equally good.
3 medium carrots, diced
¼ small pumpkin, skin removed and diced
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 heaped tbsp dijon mustard
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp smoky paprika
3 tbsp plain flour
2 cups milk
4 cups water
1 vegetable stock cube
500g macaroni (or another small pasta)
1 cup (125g) vintage cheddar
½ cup 50g parmesan
½ cup panko (or homemade) breadcrumbs
- Place the onions, carrots, pumpkin and butter in a heavy based pot over a medium heat, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are softening and some golden vegetable edges are forming. Add the garlic and cook for another few minutes.
- Add in mustard, nutmeg, paprika and flour to the pot, and stir them through really well to coat the vegetables. As the flour mixes with the buttery vegetables, it’ll become gluggy quickly, which is what we’re looking for. After a minute or so, pour in the milk. Stir the mixture well over the heat for about 2 or 3 minutes. It should become thick and form a chunky bechamel sauce.
- Remove the pot from the heat and transport the mix to a high powered blender, to blitz until smooth. Alternatively you could leave the mix in the pot, and use a stick blender to whiz it until silky.
- Put the sauce pack onto the heat in the same pot, and add the water and stock cube, stirring it through the sauce. Allow it to come back to a near boiling temperature, until bubbles are beginning to form, then add the macaroni.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Cook the macaroni for about 7-8 minutes, or at least 3 minutes less than the packet directions say, stirring it often to stop it sticking to the bottom. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven so it’s important to only start the cooking at this stage. Remove the pot from the heat, and add in the grated cheeses, reserving a handful to scatter over the top. Taste, and season the mix well.
- Pour the pasta and sauce into a large baking dish, scatter with reserved cheese, breadcrumbs and any woody herbs you have on hand. Drizzle over a little olive oil and bake for 15 minutes, or until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling. Serve alongside some green beans or a salad.
GF: swap flour and pasta for gluten-free alternatives and replace the breadcrumbs on top with chopped walnuts
Vegan: swap butter for vegan margarine, milk for your favourite plant-based milk, and cheese for nutritional yeast or vegan cheese
- Paprika for liquid smoke or mild chilli powder or sauce
- Nutmeg for allspice or cinnamon
- Dijon mustard for other mustard or mustard powder
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