Twice as Tasty

Weeknight Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin and Parmesan

If you still have winter squash in storage, use it before the warming, lengthening days cause it to soften

By Julie Laing
Photo by Julie Laing.

I think of pumpkin as a fall vegetable, but last season’s homegrown and cured winter squash have kept so well that we’re still enjoying them. If you stored winter squash, it likely won’t keep much longer as the weather starts to warm and days lengthen. As you plan your garden, consider reserving space for vining winter squash plants and enjoying tasty recipes into next year.

Many winter squash varieties can be used interchangeably in recipes that call for pumpkin; I’ve successfully made this pasta with butternut, buttercup, kabocha, Hubbard and delicata squash. Among pumpkin varieties, choose a small pie or sugar pumpkin, which won’t have the stringiness of giants grown for their carving size.

Pumpkin needs time to roast in the oven – my favorite way to cook it – so I often clean and roast several halves at once, puree the flesh and freeze it to use in cookies, pie, quick bread and more. Chunks of pumpkin roast more quickly, caramelizing on all sides and then almost melting around their edges into the hot pasta. Start with a whole fresh pumpkin, and dinner can be ready in about an hour.

I always save and roast winter squash seeds for a crunchy garnish and snack. You can make Spiced and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from your just-cleaned pumpkin, but do so carefully if you’re putting them in the oven alongside the vegetables. The high heat will make them pop and dance – and quickly pass from toasted to burned. Instead, garnish this pasta dish with previously roasted seeds or roast the freshly cleaned ones in a toaster oven at 350°F while the vegetables sizzle away in the full-size oven.

Weeknight Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin and Parmesan

Serves 4

1 small sugar pumpkin, about 2-1/2 pounds

4 peeled and quartered shallots

2 cloves unpeeled garlic

1/4 cup fresh or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

12 ounces pasta, such as penne or rigatoni

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Halve, deseed and then peel the pumpkin, reserving the seeds for roasting. Cut the pumpkin flesh into 2-inch chunks.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, spread the pumpkin, shallots, garlic and rosemary; sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then mix to coat. Bake at 450°F for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring the vegetables and rotating the pan halfway through, until the pumpkin is tender. Remove the pan from the oven and squeeze the garlic cloves from their skin onto the vegetables.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the butter, cheese and reserved pasta water, stirring until the butter has melted. Gently fold in the roasted vegetables. Adjust the seasonings as needed and divide among bowls. Serve immediately, topping with roasted seeds if desired.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.