Celebrate the arrival of autumn with this wonderfully warming roast pumpkin, blue cheese and sage-baked macaroni recipe from Elly McCausland, food blogger and writer.
This autumnal take on a favourite comfort food recipe mixes tender, golden wedges of roast pumpkin, gently spiced with garlic, paprika and sage, with a pillowy blanket of cheesy baked macaroni. This is the kind of dish that will have everyone sighing with satisfaction around the table.You can adapt it to suit your mood and the contents of your fridge: mature cheddar or goat’s cheese work well in the sauce, and you could add crumbled walnuts or hazelnuts to the breadcrumb topping. Serve this with a fresh, zingy salad to cut through the richness – I like a mixture of sliced apple, fennel and watercress, with a tangy vinaigrette.
500g of pumpkin, prepared weight, deseeded and cut into 4cm chunks (you can peel if the skin is very thick)
20 sage leaves, finely chopped, plus 5 whole leaves for garnish
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
40g of butter
40g of plain flour
500ml of semi skimmed milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
125g of blue cheese, crumbled
225g of macaroni pasta
40g of breadcrumbs
4 tbsp of grated Parmesan
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.
2. Toss the pumpkin pieces with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, the paprika, garlic, and half the sage.
3. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender, tossing occasionally so the pieces brown evenly.
4. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring for a minute. Pour in the milk gradually, whisking constantly, then simmer for five minutes until you have a thick white sauce.
5. Remove from the heat, grate in the nutmeg and stir in the blue cheese. Season to taste.
6. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water for around 7 minutes, or until just al dente (you want it to be slightly undercooked as it will cook further in the oven). Drain and add to the cheese sauce; mix well.
7. Pour the macaroni into an oven dish and mix with the roast pumpkin.
8. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining sage and the Parmesan. Scatter over the top of the pasta in the dish and bake for 20 minutes.
9. Leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining sage leaves and serve with a fresh green salad (peppery leaves like watercress and rocket are good at cutting through the rich cheese).