I’m a HUGE lover of mac and cheese, like OBSESSED. Only problem: 95% of the time I’m dairy-free. So I usually tend to not eat my beloved mac and cheese and instead dream about it. But instead of doing that anymore, I decided NO: I will make it. I created this dairy-free and gluten-free baked pumpkin mac and cheese to deal with all of my intolerances, and I added some kielbasa to make me fuller for longer.
There’s nothing like pumpkin for the fall and winter – it’s such a warming, hearty flavor that spices up any dish. I’m such a big fan of regular mac and cheese, but I wanted to try something a little different. I had an extra can of pureed pumpkin and thought it would be a super fun seasonal dish. The fact that this pumpkin mac and cheese is dairy-free means that it’s a great sharing dish for the holidays – the perfect Thanksgiving side to accommodate for those with allergies or intolerances.
I had only made a roux once and never made my own mac and cheese for fear of making the cheese sauce. I promise you, it’s not scary at all, it’s actually easy! You’ll cook together equal parts flour and butter in order to add milk, pumpkin and shredded cheese. It’s as simple as that and only takes a few minutes! Looks like we’ll be making our own mac and cheese ALL THE TIME now!
This dairy-free gluten-free pumpkin mac and cheese with kielbasa reminds me so much of one of my favorite mac and cheese places in NYC – S’Mac – where they solely sell mac and cheese of many varieties. My favorite (when I was most definitely ‘forgetting about my intolerance’) was a cajun kielbasa mac and cheese with peppers. It was spicy and the sausage was a perfect way to make the dish a meal versus an appetizer. That cajun mac and cheese was absolutely my inspiration and so to make it a little spicy, I added some red pepper flakes. In the same S’Mac tradition, I broiled this mac and cheese at the end to bubble the cheese and make a crisp topping.
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese Sauce
3 TBSP Vegan Butter (separated into 2TBSP + 1 TBSP)
2 TBSP Gluten-Free Flour (I like to use Bob’s Red Mills 1:1)
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
2 Cups Oat Milk
7 OZ Dairy-Free Shredded Cheese (I used Trader Joe’s Dairy-Free Mozzarella Shreds)
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese Pasta
8 OZ Gluten-Free Fusilli
12 OZ Kielbasa (or Smoked Sausage – I like to use Pederson’s)
INSTRUCTIONS for 2 (extremely filling) bowls of Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
- Slice the kielbasa or smoked sausage into coins about ½-1 in. thick. Put to the side.
- In a medium pot, bring water to boil, add salt and cook gluten-free pasta according to instructions – EXCEPT: cook al dente (~2 minutes less than you normally would; or if you’re like me and don’t time your pasta, just drain it when it’s on the brink of cooked). Keep to the side while you make the dairy-free cheese sauce.
- As your pasta is cooking, melt 2 TBSP dairy-free butter in a sauce pan. Once melted, add the kielbasa or smoked sausage and heat over medium-heat until slightly crisped and browned (5-10 minutes).
- Once the kielbasa is browned and slightly crispy, take out of the pan (leaving the dairy-free butter) and place into a deep 9×9 in. baking dish. Add the gluten-free pasta and mix together slightly. Put to the side.
- Add the remaining 1 TBSP dairy-free butter into the sauce pan and melt. Once all melted, whisk in the gluten-free four. Cook for ~1 minute until slightly thickened.
- Gently whisk in the dairy-free milk to the sauce. Cook for ~3 minutes stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and sticks onto the back of a spoon. Once thickened, add the dairy-free cheese and whisk together.
- Add the pumpkin puree, ~1 TSP salt and ~2 TSP pepper (I like lots of fresh cracked pepper, but feel free to use less if you’re not a huge fan!). If you’d like to make the dish a little spicy, add about ½-1 TSP of red pepper flakes. Whisk together and allow to come together for ~1 minute.
- Turn off the heat for the dairy-free mac & cheese sauce and pour over the kielbasa and gluten-free pasta in the 9×9 baking dish. Gently mix together. Crack fresh black pepper on top.
- Turn the oven onto Broil at 500ºF and place the dish on the top rack. Broil for ~5 minutes. The dairy-free cheese sauce should bubble and slightly brown.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.