This creamy pumpkin pasta comes together all in one pot for an easy dinner. Bucatini noodles simmer until tender, then mix with a savory sauce. Simple pantry items make this a quick and flavorful autumn-inspired meal.
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Pumpkin puree may seem reserved to sweet treats like pumpkin pie. But, its delicate flavor and smooth texture blend seamlessly into a savory sauce, perfect for tossing with your favorite pasta noodles. For easy dinner prep and clean-up, all the ingredients come together in one pot.
Open your pantry, and you’ll find most of the items you need. I combine dried staples like bucatini, canned pumpkin, and Italian herbs with some freshly chopped aromatics. A splash of heavy cream further thickens the consistency and allows the sauce to better cling to each forkful.
To make a hearty main entree or pasta side dish, I use bucatini noodles. They are long strands similar to spaghetti, except they have a small hole down their center.
The air gap yields a thicker, chewier texture, and it catches some sauce inside. Other pasta options include linguine, rigatoni, spaghetti, or cavatappi. Gluten-free varieties work too; however, they may cook faster. Adjust the cooking time based on the type of pasta.
Cooking the pasta
Use a large pot or dutch oven, at least 4-quarts in size, that can fit long noodles if using. First, saute onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, tomato paste, salt, and pepper to build a flavorful sauce base. Then add the dried noodles, water, and vegetable broth directly to the pot.
Boil and stir often, until the pasta absorbs most of the liquid and becomes tender. This process takes about 12 to 14 minutes. It’s a real time-saver, compared to waiting for the water to boil plus cook time.
Making a pumpkin sauce
Pumpkins have several health benefits, which make each serving loaded with nutrients, especially fiber. The natural starches health to create a creamy consistency in the sauce. You can use canned products for convenience, or if you have fresh pumpkin, make homemade pumpkin puree.
I turn the heat down to low to gently incorporate delicate heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. A little bit of grated nutmeg adds a warm, sweet flavor, which boosts the pumpkin’s neutral taste. Freshly chopped sage adds a slightly peppery, eucalyptus flavor to the hearty dish.
What to serve this with
Cooking pasta by absorption
Typically you cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. However, if you’re willing to dedicate a little more attention to stir, you can significantly cut down the preparation time. You will need at least 4-cups of liquid for 8-ounces of pasta. It’s critical to stir often to make sure that the liquid is evenly coating the noodles. Towards the end of cooking, you’ll notice that the released starches thicken the broth and glaze the pasta. For thicker varieties, you can gradually add more water until the noodles are al dente.
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One-Pot Pumpkin Pasta
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup yellow onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 8 ounces bucatini, or spaghetti
- 2 cups water
- 2 cup vegetable broth, or vegetable stock
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon chopped sage, for garnish
- Heat a large high-sided skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, once hot, add the onion. Cook until fragrant and begins to turn translucent, about 1 minute.
- Add the garlic, Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for 30-seconds. Add tomato paste and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the pasta, water, and vegetable stock. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Cook and frequently stir until the pasta is tender and water has mostly evaporated, keeping a small amount in the pan to create a light sauce, about 12 to 14 minutes. Add more water if needed, ½ cup at a time for a softer pasta. Turn the heat down to low.
- Stir in the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and nutmeg. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. If needed, add more vegetable broth to loosen the sauce consistency.
- Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
- Garnish with chopped sage, parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Divide among plates and serve warm.
- Make it DAIRY-FREE: Substitute coconut, cashew, or oat milk for the heavy cream. Omit the parmesan cheese.
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