Fall is definitely in the air. Strolling through backstreets of Berlin, I see yellowing leaves swirl and tumble from the trees and crunch underfoot. Another hearty, warming meal with seasonal flavors of fall is in order tonight. In this dish, the bright orange pumpkin is full of anti-oxidants, fiber, beta-carotenes and nutrients (vitamins A, C, and E), and sage is believed to improve your mood, refresh your concentration, and sharpen your memory. Happy seasonings!
Creamy Roasted Pumpkin, Pancetta & Sage Pasta
- 1-2 small pumpkins (look for Japanese “kabocha” variety with dark green skins or Hokkaido orange pumpkins)
- olive oil, salt & pepper
- 1/2 lb. (1/2 a package, or 250 g.) pasta (I used ruffled macaroni called Galletti)
- 1-2 shallots, diced
- 1 cup cream
- 3/4 to 1 cup reserved cooking water from pasta
- 2 fresh sage leaves chopped finely (plus more for garnish) or a sprinkle of dried sage
- Optional: 1 tsp of sugar, or other sweetener, to taste
- 3 oz. (about 80 g.) pancetta, chopped coarsely
- A sprinkling of shredded gouda cheese, to taste
Step One: Roast the Pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Cut the pumpkin open carefully, then chop into smaller wedges. Scoop out the seeds and strings and place the wedges on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the skin releases easily when you pull it but the flesh of the pumpkin remains a golden orange. Cool, then use a table knife to gently peel back the skin, then coarsely chop the roasted pumpkin into large chunks.
Step Two: Cook the Pasta
Follow package directions, but make sure to salt the water before boiling and cook until al dente. Right before draining pasta, scoop out a cup of the pasta water and reserve for the sauce.
Step Three: Prepare the Sauce
In a saute pan with olive oil, cook the shallots until translucent. Add the roasted pumpkin and stir, breaking up large pieces and keeping the heat on low. Add the cream and a bit of the cooking water from the pasta (the sauce should be a creamy orange now). Mix in the sage. Add drained pasta and more cooking water (to desired consistency) and stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning if more sage and/or salt & pepper is needed (but remember that pancetta & cheese will add saltiness, so it’s better to go easy on the salt). Add sugar or sweetener if using and mix well until all warmed through. Scoop into pasta bowls, top with the chopped pancetta, a sprinkling of gouda cheese, and some extra sage leaves if desired.
Final Step: Dig In!