Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Recipe
We spent a pretty low-key weekend, which is just what we needed after being so busy with holiday activities. I had time to do my favorite activity: cooking! I planned on making a fairly healthy meal of bow tie pasta covered in sauce.
I used fresh pumpkin and boiled it until very soft. I love all kinds of squash, including pumpkin, when they're in season. I almost never use the canned version, even for baking, unless I'm really running out of time.
For better visual appeal, I added finely-cut French green beans and sprinkled the top of the pasta dish with a little grated Dubliner for extra nuttiness.
Yields: 8 servings½ small pumpkin , peeled, seeded and diced
1 (16-ounce) package bow-tie pasta, cooked and drained
6 tablespoons caramelized onions (click on the link for the recipe)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 cups French green beans, stemmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk, warm
1 tablespoon salt
1¼ teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
3 tablespoons Dubliner cheese, freshly grated
Making pumpkin purée:
Place the cubed pumpkin in a small pot with enough cold water to barely cover. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook for about 20-22 minutes, until fork-tender. Drain as much liquid as possible, reserving a little liquid to thin the sauce. Transfer the pumpkin flesh to a food processor (you could also mash it manually) and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in 4 tablespoons of caramelized onions. Stir well.
For the béchamel sauce: In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat; you don't want it to burn. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the butter should be hot and golden) and add the flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter and form a paste. Add the milk in 3 stages and stir well until fully incorporated. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add oregano, basil, sage and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Add the butternut squash liquid if the sauce is too thick (I did).
Sautéing the beans:
Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a large deep pan. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Cook until lightly golden. Add the green beans. Toss well. Make sure the beans are well coated in the oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the color changes and becomes greener and glistening. Add salt. Transfer the vegetables to a plate. Set aside.
In the same pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add the rest of the onions, red chili flakes and the bow-tie pasta. Stir until well incorporated. Add tomato paste, about ¼ cup of pumpkin water (or you could also use some reserved pasta water, vegetable broth or simply warm water). Toss the pasta for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add more pumpkin water. Transfer to a large serving platter. Add the pumpkin purée and béchamel sauce. Mix well. Add half the sautéed green beans. Adjust seasoning.
Pour over the bow ties and top with the remaining green beans. Sprinkle with Dubliner cheese. Let sit for 5 minutes until the cheese is a little melty.
You could also substitute butternut squash for pumpkin.
The acidity from the tomato paste cuts the natural sweetness of the pumpkin.
Our family is crazy about Dubliner cheese. It has a nutty flavor with a mild fruitiness. If you don't find it, you can replace it with another aged cheese such as Parmesan.
To make béchamel sauce, always make sure all the ingredients are at the same temperature, so heat the milk in the microwave for about 2 minutes (or in a saucepan), so it's warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a hand blender.
And if you're a pasta lover, check out my other pasta dishes.
Published By: on December 16, 2013.