Irresistible Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Ooey gooey mac and cheese tastes even richer with canned pumpkin. You simply have to try this fast dinner recipe -- it's one of the top Better Homes and Gardens recipes ever!

Your mac and cheese is all grown-up. This recipe for pumpkin mac and cheese uses Fontina, Parmesan, and sage for a sophisticated touch. But make no mistake. It's still pure comfort food. Let's begin by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. To make the cheese sauce, place two tablespoons of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add two tablespoons of flour, a half teaspoon of salt, and ground black pepper. Stir the butter and flour mixture, then slowly whisk in one cup of whipping cream, and one cup of whole milk. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly until it's slightly thickened and bubbly. Now, stir in one cup of shredded Fontina cheese, and a 15-ounce can of pumpkin. The pumpkin not only lends the sauce a nice orange color, but it's a good way to incorporate something that's healthy for you. Next, add one tablespoon of snipped fresh sage. You can use a half teaspoon of crushed dried sage if you don't have fresh on hand. Add 8 ounces of cooked and drained elbow macaroni to the pumpkin cheese sauce, and stir it together until the pasta is well-coated. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart baking dish. To make the topping, place a half cup of soft bread crumbs into a small bowl, and add a half cup of grated Parmesan cheese, a third of a cup of chopped walnuts, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Stir the topping, and sprinkle it evenly over the pasta. Bake the mac and cheese uncovered until it's bubbly, and the top is golden brown-- about 30 minutes. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. It makes a perfect bowl casserole that's equally at home on a holiday table as a side dish, or center stage as a weeknight dinner. For a nice touch of color, you can top the pumpkin mac and cheese with a few ribbons of fresh sage leaves.