I think mac and cheese is a universally loved food. Whether it’s the cheap boxed kind from the store, or something gourmet with truffles–it’s all delicious.
My daughter is a particular mac and cheese addict, and I began serving her up mac and cheese made healthier with pureed sweet potatoes and Greek yogurt a little over two years ago. A week doesn’t go by that she doesn’t request that recipe.
But this week, I was hankering for something cheesy myself. Peering into my fridge and procrastinating my work, as I often do, I spotted a leftover can of pureed pumpkin, a bunch of beautiful rainbow swiss chard, and a block of gruyere. It was time to get cheesy.
This is a great dish to make ahead for a weeknight dinner, or for bringing to someone’s home on a cool autumn weekend. If you’re the kind of person who likes bread crumbs on top of mac and cheese go for it. I like mine without, but I respect the additional carbs. Don’t have, or like, swiss chard? You could also use spinach (even frozen spinach), kale, or steamed broccoli.
Looking for more ideas for mac and cheese? Try my simple sweet potato mac and cheese, this gluten-free butternut squash mac and cheese from my friend Rella, or one of my other favorite kid-friendly recipes Weelicious’ green mac and cheese.
1 box pasta of your choice (elbow macaroni, cavatappi, or shells would be ideal)
1 large bunch swiss chard (can also substitute spinach, kale, or broccoli)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp flour
¾ cup milk
1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree (can also substitute butternut squash or sweet potato puree)
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ cup reserved pasta cooking water
¼ tsp fresh nutmeg
1 cup shredded gruyere
1 cup shredded cheddar
Additional 1-2 cups grated cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Grease a 9×13 baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to directions in a large pot of salted water. Reserve 1-2 cups of starchy cooking water.
While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter in a large pan over medium heat. Cook swiss chard until just wilted.
In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, add 2 Tbsp butter. When just melted, add 2 Tbsp flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes, until completely incorporated and a slightly darker, tan color.
Add milk and continue to whisk until mixture becomes thick. Add reserved pasta water, pumpkin puree, and yogurt and keep whisking.
Add grated cheese and mix until melted and smooth. If mixture seems too thick, add additional pasta cooking water until desired consistency. Add ¼ tsp nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour drained pasta into prepared baking dish. Add pumpkin cheese sauce and combine until completely mixed. Top with additional 1-2 cups of grated cheese.
Cover with tin foil and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.