Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whole Wheat Rotini with Pumpkin Alfredo and Walnuts

As I do every fall, I've been devouring every manner of pumpkin food I can get my hands on. It's been mostly sweet applications - muffins, scones, and the like - but pumpkin most certainly can be used beyond baked goods. Pumpkin has a perfect amount of sweetness for savory applications and pairs really well with assertively-flavored cheeses, like the Parmesan and goat cheese I used in this pasta recipe. The silky texture of pumpkin puree provides an excellent base for a sauce, providing full and rich flavor without overwhelming the other ingredients the accompany it. Nutty whole wheat pasta harmonizes perfectly with pumpkin, with a topping of rich and crunchy walnuts and sprinkling of fresh parsley rounding out the dish. If you're looking to move pumpkin into the savory realm, ease your way in with this simple and delicious meal. Full of flavor, but quick to prepare, it's the perfect salute to this glorious fall vegetable. And if you love it as much as I do, stay tuned - my next pumpkin pasta recipe is just waiting to be published.

Whole Wheat Rotini with Pumpkin Alfredo and Walnuts
adapted from Food Network
serves 4

Kosher salt
12 ounces whole wheat rotini, penne, or other pasta of choice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 chopped toasted walnuts, for topping
1 ounce fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Chopped fresh parsley, for topping

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.

2. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in the milk and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium low; simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese and cook until thick, about 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed. Divide among bowls and top with walnuts, goat cheese, and parsley.

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