Monday, November 12, 2012

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

Have you ever wanted a bowl of pasta but were quite tired of the same old tomato or marinara sauce on pasta? Or if you're a little more old school and keep it clean with just garlic and olive oil, haven't you wished you could bring a new, fresh flavor into your bowl of pasta? I felt exactly that way last week, and I wanted a new sauce quickly (in about the time it took the pasta to cook).

I had a can of pumpkin around, and if you've been reading this blog from the beginning you might have gotten the hint that I am a culinary sucker for pumpkin. It's really just so versatile in how you can use it in so many dishes, either as a star or as part of the supporting cast. Faigy and I (if you haven't noticed, my wife and I are co-bloggers now; I lucked out with someone just as (if not more so) culinarily talented and inclined as myself) have been toying with the idea of making pumpkin gnocchi for quite some time now. Unfortunately it was a rather lazy Sunday so that wasn't happening. But we could do the next best thing - have pasta with some sort of pumpkin sauce.

I wanted to really highlight the savory notes of pumpkin this time, which stands in contrast to a lot of other pumpkin recipes I'm a fan of. I decided to use dairy as the platform upon which to build these flavors - first and foremost starting with frying (not just sautéeing) onions in butter. Some milk thins out the thicker canned pumpkin and gives the sauce some creaminess, but what really steps up the flavor is fresh-grated Parmesan cheese. It's sometimes hard to find blocks of Parmesan kosher, so in a pinch the bottled pre-grated Miller's stuff will do, but it's hard to beat the fresh stuff. The cheese brings out some of the nuttiness dormant in the butter and pumpkin, and is enhanced if you add the toasted crushed walnuts.

The last really crucial thing to this recipe is the finishing touch: extra virgin olive oil. Now, I am often one to just skip garnishes and like accoutrements to recipes I see; you are free to do so with the others in this recipe, but I warn you, DO NOT SKIP THIS. The fruitiness of the olive oil adds a really powerful contrasting accent to the savory sauce we've built up and teases out some of the fruitiness the pumpkin is hiding. Since it's raw, definitely use the extra virgin stuff (we just used generic Fairway brand and it was fantastic).

You can in fact make this entire recipe pareve/dairy-free (as indicated) but be aware that if at all possible, you should re-make it in its dairy form another time to compare and contrast.

A fresh autumn take on pasta sauce

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

1 lb. penne or other short pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 can pumpkin
1/3 cup milk or coconut milk
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground sage (I didn't have dried or fresh; either of these are preferable)
1/3 cup grated parmesan (dairy-free version: use about as much toasted ground walnuts)
~1/4 cup toasted crushed walnuts, optional (don't use more if you're already replacing the parmesan)
1 tbsp brown sugar
~1 tsp salt
~1 tsp white pepper

For serving:
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil , NOT optional
dried parsley or fresh chives, optional

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Set pasta cooking when water is boiling. Cook to desired doneness.
  2. Fry the onion in butter or olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the edges of the onions are brown and crispy, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add pumpkin, milk, spices, sugar, salt & pepper. Cook through about 5 minutes.
  4. Add Parmesan cheese and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Optional: if using crushed walnuts, add them now too.
  6. Serve over pasta. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top liberally.
Enlarged for texture. And deliciousness.

No comments:

Post a Comment