Confession: I’ve never made this dish before. I kind of thought it up on a whim, thinking about the pumpkin and blue cheese flavors, what they taste like separately, and what they would taste like together. They’re both unique, hearty, a bit earthy, and full-bodied. Very comforting. And very Fall.
It’s so nice and satisfying—creamy, autumn-y, with a wonderful earthiness from both the pumpkin and the blue cheese. The contrast in colors is gorgeous (who doesn’t love blue and orange together?), and it just really satiates every one of the five senses. Yes, even your hearing. It sings!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of salted water with a drizzle of olive oil to a boil. Add your pasta (we went with whole wheat rotini here, but you can use shells, fusili, elbows, or whatever your favorite shape is) and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Grate your cheddar and Parmesan (or pecorino romano) and crumble your blue cheese so you have those at the ready for your cheese sauce.
Now make your roux by melting the butter in a pot or saucepan on medium-low heat. When it’s melted, add the flour and keep moving the mixture around as it thickens, being careful not to let it burn.
Add in the milk and continue whisking until the whole thing starts to thicken. Take the pot off the heat and use a wooden or plastic spoon to stir in the cheese, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice.
When the cheese and roux-milk mixture is combined so that the cheeses have started to blend and melt together, stir in the pumpkin purée.
Add in your pasta and mix it so you get the pumpkin cheese sauce in every nook, cranny, and crevice. Pour it into a baking dish (mine is 9? x 13?, but use a bigger one for a shallower bake and a smaller one for a thicker bake) and set aside while you make your breadcrumb topping.
In a bowl, combine the Panko and remaining blue cheese, puréed pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice with your fingers until it sticks together like a crumb-y cookie dough. Sprinkle it on top of your mac and cheese.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the crumbs on top start to brown. Plate and enjoy!