If this post had a subtitle, it would be “The Adult’s Mac & Cheese.” This dish is creamy, gooey, and cheesy (like my humor…), but doesn’t have the high calorie or fat content that so many mac and cheese recipes share. The rosemary in this dish becomes the star and elevates the entire dish from a simple dinner to placate a child to an elegant side worthy of your Thanksgiving table!
This recipe is gluten-free, but if you love your gluten, you could just as easily make this with multigrain pasta and normal breadcrumbs. You will want to cook the pasta 2 minutes less than the directions indicate for “al dente” and then complete the recipe as normal. Personally, I have become a huge fan of these rice chex (off-brands are fine!) breadcrumbs. They stay crisp and crunchy longer than normal breadcrumbs – even after a couple days in the refrigerator, they’ve still got it!
For vegetarians, this dish promises more than just gooey, cheesy delight – the addition of pureed beans to the sauce combines with the brown rice pasta to create a complete protein with all 9 of your essential amino acids. This side really ensures that your vegetarian guests will be well taken care of during your Thanksgiving feast (and though it’s not Kraft, your little ones will probably like it, too!)
- 16 oz. brown rice penne (I got mine from Trader Joe's!)
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. rosemary, chopped
- 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
- 1 15 oz. can great northern beans
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 cup rice chex (off brands are fine!), ground into coarse breadcrumbs with your food processor
- cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 400℉.
- Spray a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish with cooking oil.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, but drain 2 minutes earlier than recommended.
- In a large skillet with tall sides, heat the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onion, stir to coat with oil, and cover. Once the onion has released its liquid (2-3 minutes), uncover and cook until onions begin to turn slightly golden.
- Add garlic and continue to cook until both garlic and onions are golden. Add 1 teaspoon of rosemary to onions and garlic and stir. Add pumpkin puree and 1 and a half cups of water to onion mixture and stir until evenly combined. Allow sauce to simmer, covered, for five minutes.
- In the meantime, rinse beans and put them back in the can. Fill the can to the brim with water, but be careful as the beans will float and you don't want to spill them! Pour the entire can of water and beans into your food processor and process until smooth. Add pureed beans to pumpkin sauce and stir until well combined.
- When pasta is drained, add it and the 1/2 cup shredded parmesan to the pumpkin sauce in the large skillet and stir until everything is evenly mixed. Pour the pasta mixture into prepared casserole dish.
- Combine the rice crumbs, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, and remaining teaspoon of rosemary in a small bowl. Pour crumb mixture evenly over the top of the pasta and pumpkin and bake until crumbs begin to turn a golden-brown, about 20-25 minutes.
- Serve hot!
- Serves 16 as a side dish ・178 calories/serving (as side dish)
- Serves 8 as a meal ・355 calories/serving (as a meal)
- This dish can be made ahead to the point of baking and then stored, covered, in the fridge until ready to bake (1-2 days).
- This may also be covered with aluminum and frozen for a future meal!