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Fiber-rich canned pumpkin get stirred into the cheese sauce, then it gets a little kick from Mexican chorizo (spicy ground pork sausage)—and the whole thing is topped with crunchy pumpkin seeds.

Adapted from Rachael Ray Every Day, November 2018.


For the Spiced Pepitas:
  • 1 cup fresh pepitas
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
  • Pinch sugar
  • Salt, to taste
For the Mac & Cheese:
  • Salt
  • 1 pound macaroni, medium pasta shells, or elbow pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) pure pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon (about ⅓ palmful) granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon (about ⅓ palmful) dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • White pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg (no more than ⅛ teaspoon each), to taste
  • About 3 cups freshly grated yellow cheddar (¾ pound)
  • 2 ounces (about 1 cup) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Finely chopped chives, for serving


Serves: 4


Preheat oven to 375˚F.  

For the pepitas, in a bowl, toss pepitas with melted butter, spices, sugar and salt. Spread seeds evenly onto a baking sheet and roast 10-15 minutes or until they begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the mac & cheese, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 to 2 minutes shy of the package directions.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil, one turn of the pan, over medium-high. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat renders and the meat is light brown; drain on a paper towel-lined plate

In a large skillet or medium pot, melt the butter over medium to medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, then slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a bubble. Cook, whisking often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in the pumpkin. Add the granulated garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, white pepper, and nutmeg; season with salt. Add the cheeses. Stir in a figure-eight motion until the cheeses melt into the sauce, a minute or two.

Scoop out ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta and chorizo to the sauce. Add the cooking water a little at a time if the sauce is too thick. Top with chives and spiced pepitas.