October 26th is National Pumpkin Day, but I’ve been thinking about pumpkins since the first wisps of fall rolled in. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins…what would autumn be without the great pumpkin?
Canned puree is readily available this time of year, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try roasting your own pumpkin. Bonus: You can save the seeds for a nutritious snack.
I’ve found that the sweetest, most plentiful variety is the cheese pumpkin, whose name hails from the vegetable’s color and shape, which is similar to that of a wheel of cheese. Cheese pumpkins are members of the moshata squash family (you may be more familiar with its cousin, the butternut squash) and have smooth, dense flesh. They’re particularly good in pie, but you can use them in any recipe requiring pumpkin.
I normally bake with pumpkin, but this week I experimented by adding the puree to this savory cream sauce that we ate over pasta. Yum!
Pumpkin sage cream sauce
1 15-ounce can of unsweetened pumpkin puree or 2 cups roasted pumpkin
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup half and half
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup grated Parmigiano
15 sage leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, boil pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed skillet or large pot, melt the butter. Add the sage leaves and cook over medium heat until they begin to sizzle, about 2 minutes.
Add the pumpkin puree, cream, milk and cheese and let simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. When the pasta is al dente in texture, drain, reserving one cup of the pasta water. Add it to the sauce along with the pasta and toss to coat. Let the pasta continue to cook until the sauce thickens enough to stick to the noodles. Season to taste and serve immediately.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
If you’re a fan of snacking on the seeds, known as pepitas, but have a hard time separating them from the pumpkin's sticky pulp, follow this tip from the blog Napa Farmhouse 1885: Add the pepitas and the pulp to a large pot. Cover with water and, using your hands, swirl the pulp around in the water. Scoop out all the loosened seeds and add to a small saucepan.
Cover the seeds with water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain and add to a small-rimmed roasting pan. Roast for five minutes at 400 degrees. Stir and roast an additional 5 to 15 minutes until pepitas are toasted and crunchy. You can add any kind of seasoning or spices you like during the last 5 minutes of roasting. Do not roast for longer than 20 minutes to preserve nutrients.
Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.