1/2 can pumpkin puree, 1 clove garlic, 1/4 leek, 250g macaroni, 1 pint vegetable stock, 1 tsp truffle oil, 100g cheese, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp sage, 1/4 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 sweet potato.
I absolutely adore mac and cheese. So much so that despite it's obvious perfection, I am constantly re-inventing it in order to have it more often, without being bored. This version is about as far as the traditional roux-based cheese sauce as you can get, but it's healthy, can be made lactose intolerant or vegan-friendly by using a wheat-free pasta or substituting the layer of cheese with a dairy-free alternative respectively. As Autumn rolls in, I go pumpkin crazy and this truly is an out-of-this world dish.
Check out some of my other favourite versions: avocado mac and cheese using my roast garlic and avocado puree, cauliflower mac and cheese, broccoli mac and cheese and of course mac and peas.
1) Use 3/4 of the vegetable stock to put the macaroni on to boil, reserving the remaining 1/4 for the sauce.
2) Slice and dice the leek finely (discarding the root and leafy ends) and add to a pan with the truffle oil. Sautee gently, adding the garlic (crushed) once it begins to soften.
3) By the time the garlic begins to sizzle the macaroni should be ready - drain and set aside, reserving a ladle of the vegetable stock to add to the leek and garlic. Reduce this by about 50% and add the pumpkin puree, herbs and spices.
4) If the sauce is too thick, add a little more vegetable stock to thin it out (or cream if you want to be REALLY decadent), then stir in the drained macaroni.
5) Transfer to an oven-proof dish and grate the sweet potato and cheese onto the top. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes (until the cheese is gooey and golden and the sweet potato is just beginning to crisp) and serve hot.
I very rarely add salt as standard to a dish, advising only to season to taste, but in this case I found a tiny bit of salt and black pepper to be a nice touch once I'd removed a portion for my toddler.