Rigatoni with Cheeeesy Pumpkin Sauce
I’m such a rebel, man! (Ok, not really :P.) But when it comes to cooking with pumpkin, I kinda am. I’m always hunting for ways to eat it that stray from the “traditional” sweet breads, pies, and other cinnamon-y concoctions out there. I don’t know why either, because those things are seriously delicious! I really do think it’s some internal rebellious desire inside me that just wants to stick it to the man and go my own way. I was pretty calm as a teenager so maybe this is me “acting out” to compensate as an adult.
Anyway, this week I whipped up a quick pumpkin pasta dish that was HEAVEN. By the way, do you regularly use rigatoni pasta noodles? Because you NEED to. They hold so much more sauce than your basic spaghetti and linguini noodles! It is probably my favorite type pasta of them all!
This dish is meatless, but I have also made it with the addition of chopped rotisserie chicken and it is truly wonderful either way. And those toasted pecans on the top? Dang. That’s all I can say. They add the most perfect, toasty/sweet crunch. DO NOT leave them off, do you hear me? (Of course I’ll never know… so do what you want. But add the pecans. Do it.)
My husband loooooves this pasta. He keeps asking me when we’ll be having it again… when I can make it for his parents because “They would really like it” etc, so I’d say it’s a clear winner.
I went ahead and took process photos of this pasta because the steps might not be familiar to everyone. Just know in advance that I’m aware of how horribly disgusting my stove top is in these photoes and have no excuses to offer. My kitchen gets dirty and sometimes I don’t clean it before I cook something new. I hope we can remain friends.
Start by finely dicing the onion & garlic and sauteing them in a little oil, butter, or even reserved fat from cooking another meal. (I love to save the fat from breakfast sausage to cook with. Yum!) Sprinkle in the herbs, along with a few pinches of salt and pepper and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes until onions are soft. Sprinkle 1/8 Cup of flour evenly over the mixture and stir it around for about 1 minute to allow the flour to cook. Then pour in 1/2 C. chicken broth and 1/2 C. cream (or half & half).
Stir in the broth and cream and allow it all to bubble gently for 3-5 minutes, until it has thickened into a nice sauce. It will look like this when you drag your spatula along the bottom of the pan (thick enough to take a few seconds to cover the empty spot.)
Now, add in the pumpkin puree, and all the delicious cheeses (cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and sharp cheddar. Goat cheese would also be a delicious substitute for cream cheese if you wanted to go that route.) Stir over low heat to melt.
Meanwhile, you’ve had your noodles boiling in salted water for about 9 minutes. (Sorry, forgot to mention that before, but I’ll be sure to in the printable.) Before draining them, reserve 1/4 Cup of the starchy pasta water to add to the sauce later.
Then just drain the noodles and dump them directly into the saucepan.
Toss to coat all the noodles in the heavenly sauce. (It is at this point you could add chopped chicken if you so desire.)
Garnish with fresh thyme and a dusting of toasted, chopped pecans. (I toast my pecans quickly in a dry skillet on the stove top. It really makes them crunchier and sweeter so try not to skip that step.)
Ooooohhhh man, I wish I could come to your house and make this for you right now. Just to show you how worth it it is! This is one pumpkin recipe to hang onto. And as a nice bonus, it can be prepared in under 30 minutes, so it’s a great weeknight meal for when you’re short on time.
Can’t wait to hear how you like it! I love me some savory pumpkin!
Here’s the printable recipe:
Rigatoni with Cheesy Pumpkin Sauce
Source: Carissa @ Pretty/Hungry Blog
-1 tbsp. desired fat (oil, butter, or reserved cooking fat from another meal)
-1/4 onion, finely diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-sage, thyme, & rosemary (1/2 tsp of each if using fresh, 1/4 tsp of each if using dried)
-salt & pepper, to taste
-1/2 Cup low-sodium chicken broth
-1/2 Cup half & half cream
-1/2 Cup pumpkin puree (to make your own, see here!)
-2 Tbsp. cream cheese
-2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
-1/4 Cup grated sharp Cheddar
-1/4 Cup toasted, chopped pecans (toast over medium heat in a dry skillet, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes)
-fresh thyme for garnish (optional)
-chopped, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken optional)
In a small, dry skillet, toast 1/4 Cup pecans over medium/low heat, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes until you begin to smell a nutty aroma. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Set aside.
In a separate medium skillet, melt desired cooking fat and saute diced onion & garlic over medium heat, along with herbs and a pinch each of salt & pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in 6-8 oz rigatoni pasta. Set a timer according to package instructions for al dente pasta.
When onions are soft (after about 5 minutes), sprinkle 1/8 Cup flour evenly over them and stir to distribute. Allow to cook about 1 minute. Pour in 1/2 Cup chicken broth and 1/2 Cup half & half cream. Let bubble gently to thicken (about 3-5 minutes) until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Then reduce heat to low and mix in 1/2 Cup pumpkin puree, 2 Tbsp. cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, 1/4 Cup sharp cheddar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir to gently melt cheeses.
Reserve 1/4 Cup pasta water before draining noodles. Then add drained noodles directly to the sauce pan and toss to combine. (Add 1 Cup chopped, pre-cooked chicken at this stage, if desired.)
Garnish with toasted, chopped pecans, and fresh thyme.
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