Once you make this there’s no turning back. Believe me when I say it’s going to be your new go-to mac and cheese recipe. With creamy, velvety pumpkin (or butternut squash!) and decadent, rich coconut milk, there’s a new way to indulge in mac and cheese! I love using shells or penne in my mac and cheese, but feel free to use elbow macaroni or whatever pasta you’d like— you could also swap in whole wheat or gluten-free pasta.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch pan with coconut oil or olive oil cooking spray.
In a large saucepan, combine the butternut squash/pumpkin, garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, salt, and coconut milk. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, and making sure the all the butternut squash is submerged. Simmer until the pumpkin is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs.
Carefully place the squash mixture in a food processor or blender and purée until velvety smooth.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water, remove all excess liquid.
Spread out the pasta in the prepared pan, and pour the squash/pumpkin–coconut milk purée over the pasta. Gently fold in the nutritional yeast and mix well to combine, ensuring that all noodles are coated. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in preheated oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly and cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping.
Remove the mac and cheese from the oven, uncover, and sprinkle the top with the herbed bread-crumb topping, followed by a sprinkle of the remaining 2 tablespoons grated cheese. Transfer to the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes until brown and bubbly.