Pumpkin & Three Cheese Pasta Bake

Good comfort food for a crowd that isn’t too bodgy.  Don’t overthicken the bechamel.  And yes, it’s a lot of milk but you do need it even though it may look a little runny at first.  It does thicken up a lot – it just takes a few minutes of whisking and heat before it does.
 
Ingredients
2 kg pumpkin peeled & cut into small chunks, (Queensland blue is a good choice)
¼ cup Verjuice or sweet balsamic
200g persian fetta (or danish can substitute)
200g cheddar cheese, grated
1 bunch rosemary, chopped
500g big fat pasta tubes or spirals
 
Cheese sauce

160g unsalted butter
160g plain flour
2 l milk
1 tablespoon grated nutmeg
300g grated Parmesan
2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Method
 

Line a roasting tray with baking paper, add the pumpkin, chopped rosemary, sea salt & black pepper, drizzle with a little evoo & ¼ cup verjuice.
Roast at 200 C for half hour until the pumpkin starts to colour and is tender.
To make the cheese sauce; melt the butter in a medium sized pot and take to nut brown then add the flour, mixing well to combine.
Remove from the heat and pour the milk in slowly, using a whisk to avoid lumps.
Place back on the heat and continue to stir until the sauce starts to thicken, cooking for a few more minutes.
When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, add the nutmeg and stir in the grated Parmesan, stirring continuously until the cheese has melted.
Taste the sauce and add a little salt if necessary – be careful to only add salt after you’ve added the cheese as often the cheese is all the salt you’ll need.
Directly cover the top of the sauce with cling film and set aside until needed.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
Add the cheese sauce to the macaroni and mix through well, then add the pumpkin and toss through gently, break up the Persian fetta and add this to the macaroni too.
Pour the macaroni mixture into an oven proof dish, top with the grated cheddar and bake at 200 C (given that every oven is different it could take between 10 and 20 minutes).

Serves 12-16
Recipe: Maggie Beer

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