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+ servings

Three Cheese Pumpkin Mac with Pancetta and Sage

Author - Serena Wolf
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 4 -6 entree servings/10-12 side servings


  • 1 pound short pasta of your choice I’m partial to cavatappi, casarecce, rigatoni, and fusilli.
  • ½ pound diced pancetta Bacon is also good.
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder or more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese Parmigiano Reggiano will also do.
  • cups extra sharp cheddar cheese divided
  • cups grated Fontina cheese divided (Gouda is also a good option.)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the crispy topping:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs I like whole-wheat, but you do you.
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain and briefly set aside.
  • Meanwhile, get going on the crispy topping. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted and frothy, add the garlic and cook until lightly golden, about a minute to 90 seconds. (Be very, very careful not to let it burn, people!! If it starts to color too quickly, turn down the heat.) Stir in the sage, bread crumbs, and a tiny pinch of salt. Once all the crumbs are coated in the butter (this is going to help them get nice and golden later), immediately transfer the toping to a small bowl and briefly set aside.
  • Heat a large shallow braiser (I like to cook it in my Le Creuset braiser that is broiler-safe and can be used as a serving dish) or Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the grease from the pan and return it to the stove. Stir in the sage and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the flour and cook for 1 minute just until the flour is golden. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking occasionally, or until the sauce has thickened slightly (it should just coat the back of a spoon). Stir in the pumpkin puree, garlic powder, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the Pecorino Romano, 1 cup of cheddar, and 1 cup of Fontina. Season with salt (the pancetta and cheeses are salty, so start small and be careful) and freshly ground black pepper to taste. The sauce should be luscious and creamy. (If seems to thick, add another tiny splash of milk.)
  • Preheat the broiler on high. Place an oven rack about 6 inches from the heating element.
  • Fold the pasta into the warm sauce and cook for a minute or two until everything is heated through. (If you’re not cooking in your serving dish, transfer the mac and cheese to a casserole dish now.)
  • Sprinkle the mac with the remaining ½ cup cheddar and ½ cup Fontina. Top with the prepared crumb mixture.
  • Broil until the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs are golden and toasty, about 2 minutes. (KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON IT! Broilers are fickle beasts and you don’t want your mac to burn.)
  • Serve warm.