Pumpkin Sage Mac & Cheese with Grilled Bratwurst
I’ve always end up with a minor pumpkin obsession this time of year. Call me basic—I mean, it’s pretty spot on. But this recipe HAD to be shared… get this: Pumpkin Sage Mac & Cheese with Beer Cheese, Grilled Bratwurst and Crispy Pretzel Crumb Topping.
So this recipe was mostly created out of necessity…For Luke’s birthday, we had an Oktoberfest themed party complete with tons of German beer, 3 kinds of pretzels, schnitzel bites, sauerkraut and grilled bratwurst… it was seriously awesome!
But we had tons of brats left over! So the creative wheels started turning and we ended up with this INCREDIBLE mac & cheese recipe using the leftover brats and lots of our leftover pretzels.
Holy moly! It’s delicious and an ever so slightly healthier version of mac & cheese! By swapping in some pumpkin puree for a boatload of the shredded cheese, the whole dish is lightened up. Which is great cause it makes space for all the other flavors to shine through.
And with the sage, the whole thing is just seriously Fall-y!
If you don’t have brats, feel free to swap in any grilled sausages—or you could even leave out entirely for a seriously healthy version of our favorite comfort classic!
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 10 sage leaves
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 cup beer
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 oz. cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 oz. provolone shredded
- 6 bratwurst or sausage of your choice grilled and diced
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 1 cup hard pretzels
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, toss in rigatoni and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil to medium. Add in the diced onion and minced garlic. Let cook for 5 minutes until they begin to brown. Remove from the pan.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Toss in the sage leaves and saute until they begin to crisp up. Remove from the oil and let drain on a paper towel.
Stir in the flour and whisk until smooth. Let bubble and thicken for 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch, then slowly begin to incorporate the milk and beer.
Then add in the pumpkin puree, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne, salt and black pepper. Let the sauce simmer and thicken for 15 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Once sauce has thickened a bit, slowly add in the provolone cheese and half of the cheddar. Let thicken another 5 minutes.
Add the drained pasta back into the large pot. Toss in the diced bratwurst and sauteed onions. Pour the cheese sauce over and mix well.
Place the pretzels into a small baggie, and crush using a kitchen mallet or rolling pin.
Pour the pasta into a 13 x 9 pan, sprinkle the crispy sage, crushed pretzels and the rest of the shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 minutes.