Cheesey Pumpkin Fusilli

Ahh, Fall is in the air! Our very favorite season may not have officially started yet, but the leaves are changing colors and Pumpkin Spice has replaced chocolate in our morning Americanos, so despite the 80+ degree highs, it feels like time for comfort food. What better dish to plunge into the most comforting of seasons with than some gooey mac & cheese? Well, how about gooey PUMPKIN mac & cheese?

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When I chose this recipe for my Book Club gathering on Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, I didn’t have enormously high hopes that it would be blog-worthy. I had some reservations about it being too sweet or too bland and I was in a big hurry when I made it, so I only took one phone picture of the finished dish. As it turns out, I am delighted to share my modification of the recipe with you, just as my Book Club and boyfriend were delighted to have had the pasta shared with them. Wrap yourself up in some corduroy and denim and dig in!

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Serves 8

Ingredients
4 cups (16 ounces) dried whole wheat fusilli (corkscrew) pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
5 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1-15 ounce can pumpkin
1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used cashews)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sage leaves (optional)
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.

2. For the cheese sauce, melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in the Fontina, shredded Parmesan, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer pasta and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart baking dish.

3. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, nuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.

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