Roasted pumpkin with Rosemary brings flavour and depth to this pasta in pumpkin sauce with parmesan. Add olives, sundried tomato and/ or mushrooms for variety. Easy to make and creamily delicious.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: pasta in pumpkin sauce, penne in pumpkin sauce, roasted pumpkin sauce
Author: Sujata Shukla
For Roasting Pumpkin
2cups pumpkin slices
For the Roasted Pumpkin Sauce
1/2 to 3/4cupmilk
2tablespoons basil leavesshredded
1/2teaspoonsaltor to taste
1tablespoonred chili flakesor to taste
2tablespoonsgrated Parmesan cheese
1/2cupwater in which pasta was cookedto thin the sauce
For the Pasta
2cups penne pasta or pasta of your choice
To Roast Pumpkin
Pre-heat the oven to 220 C/ 430 F. Wash, wipe dry and slice the pumpkin into crescents and then each into 3 pieces. Don't remove the peel. Keep the slices of uniform length and thickness so that they cook evenly.
Take a zip lock bag (food grade) and add olive oil, rosemary leaves, salt and ground pepper, and stir them in. Add the sliced pumpkin, close the bag and shake it vigorously so that the pumpkin is coated with the oil and seasonings. Alternatively. drizzle olive oil on each slice, both sides, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Set the bag aside for 5 minutes for the pumpkin to marinate.
Grease a baking sheet, layer with a sheet of parchment paper. Place the marinated pumpkin slices on the tray, leaving space between each slice. Use 2 sheets if required so that the pumpkin are not overcrowded and have space to roast. Drizzle any remaining oil/ seasonings in the bag onto the slices.Bake for 20 minutes, removing the sheet from the oven when you see the edges of the underside of the pumpkin slices begin to brown. Transfer them from the sheet to a wire rack or a plate so that they stop roasting, and once cool, peel the pumpkin. Discard the peel or, as I do, reserve them for making stock.
To cook the Pasta
Penne or any other tube /shell pasta suits this sauce very well as the sauce gets into the hollow places. Spaghetti would be good too, but my favourite here is a wheat based penne.
Place water in a tall pot and bring it to the boil Add salt and once the water gets boiling again, add the pasta, stir it in. Cook as per packet instructions. The one I used took 12 minutes to reach al dente, i.e. cooked through but still firm and with a bite. Let the pasta drain till the sauce is ready. Retain a cup of the pasta water in case the roasted pumpkin sauce needs to be thinned down at a later stage.
To Make Pasta in Roasted Pumpkin Sauce
While the water for pasta is set to boil, puree the peeled roasted pumpkin, adding upto 3/4 cup of milk while pureeing, till you get a thick but fluid puree. If there are a few pieces of pumpkin floating around, you can let them be as they will add to the texture of the dish. Set aside till you start making the sauce.Peel the cloves of garlic and crush them with a mortar and pestle. Slice the shallots. I like shallots in this sauce as they add flavour, but if you don't have them, onion may be used.
Heat olive oil in a pan and add the crushed garlic. Saute them for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sliced shallots, saute for 2 minutes.Add the pumpkin puree, stirring and keeping it on low flame for about 10 minutes. Keep it partly covered when not stirring, as bits of hot sauce tend to leap out from the pan as it boils.Add a little pasta water, upto about 1/2 a cup if the sauce is too thick and will not spread into the pasta. Not too much water as you don't want to bring down the flavour, but keep it fluid. Add shredded basil and salt to taste, and stir. Add red chili flakes.Add the grated parmesan, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese.Serve hot with a flavoursome focaccia.
Variations:You may stir in a pinch of cinnamon or pumpkin spice before adding the cheese. Olive rings or sun-dried tomato may be added before the basil and seasoning. Mushrooms if added, need to be washed drained and sliced, and sauteed separately, and then added to the sauce before you add basil and seasoning. The volume of pumpkin puree in the sauce will need to be increased by 1 cup, if mushrooms are to be added.