Slow-cooked caramelised onion, roasted pumpkin and a hint of spice give this mac ’n’ cheese a subtle sweetness, with crunchy walnuts and crispy sage making it just a little bit more special.

Serves
8

Preparation

15min

Cooking

40min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 4.3 (6 votes)
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) butternut pumpkin (squash), cut into 2-cm (¾-inch) chunks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 large brown onions, sliced
  • 25 g (1 oz) butter or margarine
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) macaroni or curly pasta
  • 3 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 375 ml (12½ fl oz/1½ cups) milk (or nut milk)
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) vegetable stock
  • 60 g (2 oz/½ cup) grated cheddar (or vegan cheese/nutritional yeast), plus extra for topping
  • 25 g (1 oz/¼ cup) grated parmesan (or vegan cheese/nutritional yeast)
  • 1 handful sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 60 g (2 oz/½ cup) walnuts, roughly chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Arrange the pumpkin chunks on a large baking tray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20–30 minutes, or until soft to touch and dark brown in colour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil over low heat and slowly caramelise the onions, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, until browned. Stir in the butter, cook for a few minutes more, then set aside.
  3. While the onions are slowly caramelising, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted, boiling water until almost al dente, but drain it 1–2 minutes before you normally would, as it will continue to soften in the oven. Drain the pasta in colander, run cold water over it and set aside.
  4. Add the flour, nutmeg and tarragon to the caramelised onion mixture and stir well. Pour in the milk and stock, and stir the sauce over medium-low heat until it comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Add the roasted pumpkin and mix well. Remove from heat. 
  5. Using a stick blender, whiz the onion and pumpkin mixture until it is completely smooth. Alternatively, you could transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender.
  6. Add the cheddar and parmesan to the sauce and stir until melted. Taste and season to your liking.
  7. Combine the pasta and sauce in a large baking dish. Top with the sage, walnuts and extra cheddar. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheddar is melted and the sage is crispy. Serve garnished with fresh herbs if desired.

 

Recipe and images from The Shared Table by Clare Scrine, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99