It’s officially pumpkin season! Whether you’re heading out to the pumpkin patch or you’re staying inside by the fire, I have just the meal to fuel you up with. Pumpkin spice may be getting all the rage but let me introduce you to this hidden veggie Pumpkin Mac & Cheese. I took notes from Kraft and made this dish extra easy to whip up – You won’t even need to deal with peeling and cooking a pumpkin. We’re gonna be L-A-Z-Y because this is some major comfort food we’re about to whip up!
I wanted to make sure this meal covers all the basics for a complete meal, so not only are veggies involved, there’s also protein and healthy fats incorporated into this creamy “cheese” sauce. The white cannellini beans bring protein and a buttery consistency whereas the cashews bring healthy fats and some extra protein as well. If that’s not a good reason to eat a big bowl of this mac, I’m not quite sure what is!
Lastly, you can make this Pumpkin Mac & Cheese completely dairy free if you’d like, simply omit the cheese or sub vegan cheese. Either way it is so flavorful and delicious! Let’s get to it.
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
(5-6 servings, vegetarian, gluten & dairy free option)
- 16 oz pasta box (I used brown rice penne)
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 can cannellini beans (white navy beans/great northern beans)
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (sub olive or avocado oil, or butter)
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 cup of water
- Optional: 1 cup of cheddar cheese (grass-fed if possible, can also sub vegan cheddar)
In a small bowl, add the cashews and cover completely with boiling water. Let the cashews soak for 20 minutes to soften as this makes the cashews extra creamy when blended.
In a large pot, cook the pasta al dente (usually 2 minutes less than package instructions) then drain, rinse, and set aside in the strainer or a bowl. Using the same pot, add in coconut oil and the carrots and heat on medium heat for 2-3 minutes while stirring occasionally. Then add in the fresh garlic, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper and stir together and let simmer. When the garlic and carrots start to brown around the edges, add in the 1 cup of water and mix well; this will help soften the carrots and prevent burning. Let simmer just until the carrots have softened through, about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside.
In a high speed blender, add the following ingredients: drained and rinsed cannellini beans, pumpkin puree, cashews that you’ve been soaking (omit the water), dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, and the garlic/carrot mixture from the stovetop. Blend on high to create a smooth sauce, this may take a few minutes to incorporate all ingredients.
Transfer the noodles back to the large pot (no need to wash the pot) and pour the sauce over all of the noodles and mix well. Add in the 1 cup of cheese (if using) and heat on low until completely warmed through. Serve with grated cheese on top and enjoy warm!
Leftovers stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, either microwave as is or heat on the stovetop with a splash of water to make the sauce extra creamy again.