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Caro: Pumpkin Mac and Apple-Smoked Cheese

Oh. My. GOODNESS. You guys.

This is SERIOUS.

This post today… it is about my new second-favorite pasta dish… ever.

(My favorite pasta dish currently is, and I’m pretty darn sure will forever be, the gnocchi in tomato sauce at Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill in St. Louis, MO. Oddly enough, it does not appear on their online menu… I just said seven prayers hoping that this does not mean they have stopped making it. That gnocchi makes up at least 58% of the reason I am dying to go back to STL. But anyway…)

Do you have any idea how much I looove pasta? (Very, very much.)
Do you have any idea how much pasta I eat? (A lot. A lot of pasta.)
Do you have any idea how many truly amazing pasta meals I have devoured in my lifetime? (Quite a few… lucky me!)
Now. Do you understand how much love I have to have for this pumpkin mac and cheese to place it on a pedestal above almost all the pasta I have eaten in my life?! I mean… whoa. It must be good, right?!

It’s so. SO. good.

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

Please note how I have made no attempts to cover up the real-life state of my kitchen. The only difference between this photo and my current kitchen is that the bananas are gone.

Can I still call this mac and cheese if I actually used orecchiette? I think so. “Orecchiette and cheese” just does not roll off the tongue as nicely.

Lest you think I’m trying to glorify my cooking abilities and going all “I utilized my culinary expertise to craft the most delectable pasta experience imaginable” on you, let me tell you that the deliciousness of this mac and cheese is attributable not at all to me but rather entirely to the types and amounts of cheese I used.

I was at Walmart when I decided I was going to make pumpkin mac and cheese for pumpkin week—thank you, iPhone, for allowing me to Google “creative pumpkin recipes” when my computer is nowhere near me!—and so I figured I’d buy ingredients there. Naturally, I hit up the cheese section first. The original recipe uses fontina, so I was on the lookout for that… no dice. I did, however, find the absolute makers of this mac and cheese… Red Apple Cheese’s Apple Smoked cheeses!

I had never seen or tried these before, ever. They caught my eye, though, and I ended up picking up apple smoked cheddar and apple smoked Gruyère to replace the elusive fontina. I had a feeling the smokey apple flavor of the cheese would blend well with the pumpkin in the mac and cheese… and boy, was I right. The flavors were incredible together.

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

There is one thing y’all may object to about this recipe… after everything, it really doesn’t turn out like much of a mac and cheese at all. It ends up more as a dish of pasta covered in an incredibly rich, thick, cheesy, and totally spoon-able sauce (like a spiffed-up alfredo, if you will). I promise, you will not miss the traditional feel of mac and cheese once you take a bite of this pasta. I ate the entire dish in two sittings… I’m pretty sure that was actually eight servings. Whatever. No regrets. I mean… YOLO, right?!

(If you’re one of those people who is super tired of hearing everyone say YOLO every five seconds, you probably shouldn’t hang around me much. I’m totally not over it.)

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

Ok. This recipe has: pumpkin (seasonal!), cheese (amazing!), whipping cream (decadent!), sage (fancy!), pasta (carb-o-licious!)… I don’t really have any selling words left. If you’re not already running to make this ASAP, who are you?

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