Dump the Tomato Sauce! Pumpkin and Pasta Make Magic Together

Darla Antoine

Congratulations. You grew some amazing squashes and pumpkins this year. And thanks to that awesome gardening column you’ve been reading lately (ahem), you have successfully harvested and stored away a lot of them for winter eating.

There’s just one problem.

You’re not exactly sure what to do with 150 pounds of squash. I mean, even with the holiday season there’s still only so much pumpkin pie one person can be expected to eat. So, if you’re looking for new ideas on how to cook your squash or pumpkins, honey, I’ve got them. I’ve been looking for a few new ways myself and there are some definite favorites among the new recipes.

First, did you know that pumpkin is a squash? Well, of course you knew that you smarty pants, you. But did you know that you could substitute any kind of squash for pumpkin or vice versa? So let’s say it’s time to make that pumpkin pie but all you have is a bunch of crookneck squashes. Well roast 'em up! With a little nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and butter it will still taste like pumpkin pie.

To prepare your pumpkin, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pumpkin in half (or quarters if it is really large) and scoop out the seeds—you can wash the seeds and roast them in the oven for a yummy snack. Put the pumpkin, cut side down, in a baking dish and add a little bit of water—just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Roast the pumpkin for about an hour or until you can easily pierce the skin with a fork. Take the pumpkin out of the oven and let it cool. If you use the pumpkin while it is still warm be prepared for some extra water content being added to your recipe. I prefer to roast my pumpkins after dinner and let them sit and set overnight.

To use your pumpkin just scrape the flesh out of the skin and cube it or puree it in a blender.                                                  

As for what to make with your pumpkin there is of course the Three Sisters: squash, corn and beans. You could try a three sisters succotash, three sisters enchiladas (my personal favorite), or even empanadas (savory hand pies). Another new favorite is Thai Pumpkin Curry.

But my latest, most favorite way to eat pumpkin is over pasta. As in, move over tomato sauce, there’s a new girl in town! This sauce is hearty, delicious, healthy and a cinch to make. And yes you could use a can of store bought pumpkin puree if you don’t have your own pumpkins to puree.

Pumpkin Sauce for Pasta
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 4

    •    2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
    •    12 ounces pasta, preferably short pasta—not noodles
    •    Salt
    •    Two tablespoons olive oil
    •    2 cups pumpkin puree
    •    2 garlic cloves, minced
    •    ½ cup of half-and-half
    •    1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or whatever you have on hand)
    •    1 tablespoon white wine or apple cider vinegar
    •    ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

In a large pot of boiling water, cook your pasta according to package directions. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water, drain pasta and set aside.

Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the rosemary and fry until the rosemary begins to brown—about 2 or 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the rosemary from the oil and set aside to drain.

To the hot oil add: pumpkin puree, salt, garlic, half-and-half, cheese, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and one cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. If the sauce is too thick add more pasta water.

Serve sprinkled with the fried rosemary and more red pepper flakes as garnish, if you’d like.

Darla Antoine is an enrolled member of the Okanagan Indian Band in British Columbia and grew up in Eastern Washington State. For three years, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the Midwest, reporting on issues relevant to the Native and Hispanic communities, and most recently served as a producer for Native America Calling. In 2011, she moved to Costa Rica, where she currently lives with her husband and their infant son. She lives on an organic and sustainable farm in the “cloud forest”—the highlands of Costa Rica, 9,000 feet above sea level. Due to the high elevation, the conditions for farming and gardening are similar to that of the Pacific Northwest—cold and rainy for most of the year with a short growing season. Antoine has an herb garden, green house, a beehive, cows, a goat, and two trout ponds stocked with hundreds of rainbow trout.

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valerie cleveland 's picture
valerie cleveland
Submitted by valerie cleveland on
never heard of this before , but sounds and looks yummy.Must try .

Sherrie - Oakland County, Michigan's picture
Sherrie - Oakla...
Submitted by Sherrie - Oakla... on
Sounds delicious. I am running to the grocery store.