Hannah Palmer Egan
Leftover pumpkin can be cut and saved (in fridge or freezer) for weeks.
One of the drawbacks of cooking with fresh pumpkin is that it becomes a never-ending saga. The protagonist cook must slowly slay the behemoth squash, devouring it bit by bit until it's gone. Break open a pumpkin and you're stuck with it for weeks.
Last week, I took a pumpkin to task: Craig Claiborne's lovely pudding
barely made a dent in the gourd I'd been stashing for months. So I cut the rest of it into pieces, froze some of it, and stowed the rest in my crisper. On Wednesday, I prepared a few pieces as a squashy burrito filling; on Sunday, I threw some into a creamy northern-Italian-style pasta, using dry goods and this and that from my pantry.
It was so yummy (and easy!), I felt compelled to share. It would be a challenge to go vegan with this one, but it could easily become vegetarian by leaving out the sausage. This recipe will also work well with any orange winter squash.
Squashy Saucy Chickpea Pasta
Hannah Palmer Egan
With sweet sausage, squash, sage and chickpeas, this pantry pasta nods to the hills of northern Italy.
- Water and salt for pasta
- 1/2 pound short pasta, (such as rigatoni or penne)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or butter
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1/2 pound sweet or breakfast sausage
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup cream or half and half
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2-3 leaves sage, chopped (about 1 teaspoon if using dried)
- Pecorino, Parmesan or firm Alpine cheese
- Salt water and boil the pasta until it's al dente. Drain, add oil or butter, toss, and reserve on the stovetop so it stays warm.
- Cover the bottom of a wide, shallow pan with 1/2 an inch of water. Add the pumpkin pieces, skin down, cover and steam for 7-10 minutes until soft. Scoop the flesh from the skins and set aside.
- Rinse the pumpkin pan and use it to brown the sausage and garlic over medium heat. When the sausage is fully cooked, strain off any excess fat. Add the oil or butter, mix in the pumpkin and chickpeas and heat about five minutes, breaking the pumpkin into lumps the size of a quarter. If the squash disintegrates, it's OK, you'll just have a smoother, saucier sauce!
- Reduce heat to low and add the cream, stirring until it's fully incorporated. Add the egg and season with salt and sage. Mix everything together and heat an additional 2-3 minutes until the egg is worked in and the sauce is smooth. If it's too thick, add another splash or two of cream to loosen things up.
- The key here is not to let the egg congeal — the heat from the sauce will cook the egg after a couple minutes; extra heat will cause the sauce to dry out into a scrambly consistency. It'll still taste OK, but it won't look nearly as nice.
- Shave ample Pecorino or Alpine cheese over the top and serve immediately, over pasta.