i recently enjoyed the absolute treat of getting together with my dearest college friends and, as always, cooking – a lot – was on the agenda. when they spied one of the recipes that i brought (for this spicy black bean soup, actually, along with a second soup), they were laughing at me (gently, of course), because i brought the original piece of paper that i printed out in 2006 when we first found the recipe. ‘member how the internet used to add a date stamp to the corner of each page you printed out? yeah, good times.
anyway, were we to look at my original copy of this pasta with easy pumpkin sauce, we would see the same thing. what can i say? when i find a good recipe, i want to make sure i don’t misplace it and my recipe filing system on my computer is… yeah (ironic, no?).
plus, i like to have the paper handy while i’m cooking so that i can jot down what i changed since i can’t think of a recipe out there that i just make the way it’s written. i always have an idea about what would make the dish a bit better…
this pasta with easy pumpkin sauce, though. this is probably just about the closest i come to leaving a recipe unchanged, which tells you just how good it is. i did make 2 changes from the original but that’s hardly anything, at least in my book…
all i changed here was swapping milk in for heavy cream (because, in addition to thinking the cream version was too heavy, who wants to buy heavy cream just to use a few tablespoons of it?!) and olive oil in for butter (somehow i’m happy to eat baked goods made with butter forwards and backwards but when it comes to savory meals, i almost always shun butter in favor of olive oil). just those two little tweaks!
regardless of how little i’ve changed this recipe over the years, i love coming back to it every fall because it’s so cozy and includes one of my favorite ingredients (pumpkin!), and in a savory recipe to boot. don’t get me wrong, i love pumpkin in dessert recipes (and dessert recipes that masquerade as breakfast…) and have a few of those coming your way, but it’s nice to have even more ways to sneak the best of fall onto the table. cheers to fall and friends, old and new!
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup canned plain pumpkin (_not_ pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if you’d like to keep this vegetarian)
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoons milk (any kind of dairy milk works and others milks probably work too)
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste
- 1 pound penne or other short pasta
- freshly grated pecorino romano/romano/parmesan, for serving
- bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. before draining the pasta, save about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water in case you need to thin out the sauce at the end. drain the pasta, transfer it back to the cooking pot, and set it aside if it’s ready before the sauce is done.
- heat the oil in a large skillet oven medium heat. sauté the onion, stirring frequently, until it is softened and just starting to turn golden brown. add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and has just the slightest hint of color.
- add the pumpkin, broth, water, milk, and nutmeg, then stir to combine. taste the sauce to see if it has enough nutmeg. let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- combine the sauce and pasta in the pasta pot; stir to coat the pasta in sauce. add the pasta cooking water in small increments if the sauce is thicker than you’d like.
- serve immediately, with a sprinkle of cheese, if you like.
adapted, barely, from penne with pumpkin sauce, found on epicurious and originally published in gourmet in november of 1992.
leftovers keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator but, predictably, the pasta softens as time passes and it absorbs the moisture from the sauce.