I love the colour orange. I have to restrain myself from buying orange coloured clothing. It’s a problem. I know. During Autumn, I can buy all sorts of orange foods and that makes me extremely happy. And the best one to buy is pumpkin, also known as winter squash.
One of my favourite dishes as a child during this season, was pasta e zucca. This is a very simple dish of pasta with pumpkin. The pumpkin varieties in Italy, especially in Napoli, are different from the ones we find elsewhere. But needs must and this girl needs orange food (mixed with pasta, of course).
Find a pumpkin variety that you like, preferably one that is orange on the inside. I don’t generally use the very large orange pumpkins because they don’t have a lot of flavour.
For this dish, I used a Crown Prince winter squash. They’re easy to find in your local supermarket or from your veg/fruit monger.
Here it is … baked… yep. I’ll get to that… Recipe after the photo. Serves two, abundantly.
- 500-600g pumpkin (wash it, but don’t cut it or anything)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
- 1-2 teaspoons oil (coconut or other cooking oil)
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon hot chilli flakes
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- olive oil (optional)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 250g mezzi rigatoni (or other pasta that you like)
- 1 Tablespoon parsley, dried flakes or fresh
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup reserve of pasta water (see Method)
Pre-heat oven to 200ºC. Place the pumpkin – whole – into the oven and bake it until soft to the touch. That should take, depending on your oven and the size of the pumpkin, between 20 and 40 minutes. You can cook any hard squash/pumpkin in this way. It makes for easy cutting, scooping and skinning.
While the pumpkin is baking, sweat the onions in the oil in a covered skillet along with the asafoetida and the chilli flakes (this will mellow out the intensity of the spice). Add the garlic once the onions have softened.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven and place on a cutting board. I don’t need to tell you, but I will: it’s hot like lava. So be careful. It will now be super easy to prepare the pumpkin. Cut it in half, remove the seeds (keep for later toasting or discard), peel the skin and chop into 2cm cubes (or smaller or bigger, as you prefer).
Add the pumpkin to the onions and spices mixture. Add the nutritional yeast. Mix and warm thoroughly and keep warm.
Cook the pasta (use this method). Just before the pasta is ready, reserve some of the pasta water. I suggest using mezzi rigatoni because they’re a good size and consistency to be paired with the pumpkin. You can also go for any other tubular shaped pasta or even shells.
Drain the pasta and put back in the pot. Add the pumpkin and onions to the pasta. Mix it all up using some of the pasta water you reserved. The mixture should be moistened by, not swimming in, the pasta water. Salt & pepper to taste. Drizzle some olive oil for flavouring and serve warm.