How to Make Pumpkin Pasta, In All Its Delicious Glory
It's never too early in the year to start cooking with pumpkin. In order to embrace the truly iconic autumnal flavor in a savory capacity, whip up this pumpkin pasta, full of warming fall flavors that will undoubtedly bring some comfort as the air begins to chill. While there are a lot of ingredients, each element of the recipe is super simple to prepare, and the overall process shouldn't take longer than 45 minutes at most.
I used a pasta called paccheri—which is like a mega-sized rigatoni or penne—but feel free to use truly anything you have on hand (short-cut, ribbon, etc.) I went a little light on the spices because I didn't want this to feel like a bowl of pasta coated in pumpkin pie filling, BUT feel free to amp up the nutmeg and allspice, or even throw in some cinnamon or clove, if you'd like to really approximate the flavors of the classic. Warning: you may end up eating the entire thing because this pumpkin pasta is alarmingly delicious—enjoy!
8 ounces pasta (plus about 1 cup of starchy pasta water)
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot (or 2 small), finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
7 to 8 ounces canned, pure pumpkin (about half of a 15-oz. can)
1/4 cup mascarpone
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Touch of ground nutmeg
Touch of ground allspice
Handful pecorino, plus 1-2 tablespoons for breadcrumb mixture
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
4-5 leaves fresh sage
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. In a large pot, boil enough water to cover pasta. When water comes to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions, stopping just before the pasta reaches an al dente texture, since you'll finish cooking the pasta in the hot sauce. Scoop out and save a cup or so of starchy pasta cooking water before draining!
2. In a large, heavy saucepan, warm olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, cooking 2-3 minutes or until translucent, and then add garlic. Toast 30 seconds or until deliciously fragrant
3. Stir in tomato paste, mix well with vegetables, and cook until the color deepens and the paste begins to 'toast,' 4-5 minutes.
4. Add white wine, turn heat to medium-high, stir well, and reduce for about 5 minutes.
5. Add pumpkin, allspice, nutmeg, and half cup of the starchy pasta water. Cook about 7-8 minutes, lower heat to medium low, and add pecorino and mascarpone.
6. Let melt, then stir until blended and cook until thickened, about 5-6 more minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to low.
7. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add panko and chopped sage. Toast, stirring constantly, until deeply browned and aromatic. Transfer to a bowl, cool slightly, and add a handful of grated parm or pecorino and stir. Season to taste (carefully - the panko mixture might not need any salt depending on the salinity of the cheese that is used.)
8. In a separate small, dry saucepan over medium heat, toast pepitas until lightly toasted and aromatic.
9. Stir cooked pasta into sauce, cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until sauce is silky, glossy, and coats the pasta well. Taste again for seasoning and add more grated cheese, if you'd like.
10. Spoon pasta and sauce into a bowl, top with toasted, buttered breadcrumb mixture, then pepitas, and then a drizzle of high-quality finishing olive oil.
11. Serve with lots of crusty bread.
12. Try to exercise some decorum and not shovel the entire bowl into your mouth in one fell swoop.
- I had pecorino on hand, but if that cheese has a bit too much bite, feel free to use grana padano or Parmigiano Reggiano.
- I toasted raw pepitas, but you can purchase already toasted, cooked, or salted pumpkin seeds, too. Or pan-fry them in some neutral oil and then salt them while they're hot - yum!
- Feel to omit the wine entirely if you're avoiding alcohol.
- Don't skimp on the toasting time for the tomato paste; you want to get it super dark and caramelized before adding the wine or pumpkin.
- DON'T use pumpkin pie filling! You want to use plain, canned pumpkin that is 100% pumpkin and nothing else.
- Freshly grating whole nutmeg is unbeatable, but you can certainly use pre-grated if you have it on hand.
- Omit the mascarpone, grated cheese, and the butter in the breadcrumbs for a really delicious, plant-based vegan option.
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