Fresh Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Fresh pasta with pumpkin = fall comfort food. I roasted a pumpkin earlier this week, and after enjoying the roasted seeds I was left with a decent amount of puree to use in recipes this week. I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for pastas with pumpkin being posted lately and thought I would give it a try!

Fresh pasta really isn’t that difficult, and you only need 4 ingredients: egg, flour, salt and water. It can be a weeknight meal! Fresh pasta is so tender. Once you taste it you won’t want to go back!

Fresh Pasta

Mix 1 cup of flour and 1/2 tsp of salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and crack in 1 egg. Lightly beat the egg with a fork, gently pulling in flour as you mix it. Add about 1.5 TBSP of water to help form a dough and knead it for a few minutes. The dough will be somewhat tough but it will come together as you roll it out. Divide the dough in half to begin rolling through your pasta machine. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin to roll the pasta to your desired thickness.

Roll it out with a rolling pin, or use a pasta machine. The first few times you roll it through the machine it might crack around the edges. Fold the strip in thirds and run it back through the machine, continuing at the thickest setting until you have a smoother sheet. By folding it in thirds and running it through again you will end up with smoother edges that roll through easier. Then roll the sheet through each of the settings, making the sheet thinner and thinner until you’ve ran it through the final setting.

You will be left with a long thin sheet of pasta. You can use a pasta cutter on a pasta machine, or just cut the pasta by hand. I like to cut it by hand because I like the more rustic looking noodles. I fold the long sheet into thirds again, making sure the sheet is lightly floured so it doesn’t stick to itself. Then I slice the sheet into my desired width of noodle. Then when you unfold the sheet you’re left with longer noodles of more consistent widths.

Lightly dust the noodles with flour after cutting them so they don’t stick together.

Fresh pasta cooks a lot faster than dried. These fettuccine noodles cook in about 2 minutes! Make sure your water is properly salted prior to boiling your noodles.

Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Saute 1 chopped garlic clove in some olive oil over medium heat. Add about 1/3 -1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin, 1/4 tsp dried sage, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes until combined. Add 1/2 cup half and half and stir to combine.

Transfer the cooked pasta to the sauce and continue to simmer over low heat for 1-2 minutes. The sauce will continue to thicken and coat the pasta. Top with fresh parmesan and enjoy!


Sober Penne A.K.A “Penne with Vodka Sauce, Hold the Vodka”

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.

Federico Fellini

Vodka Sauce?! I’ve ordered this in restaurants before and thought to myself, is there really vodka in there? And if so, WHY? Well I did a little research, and it turns out the vodka does have a few purposes. The vodka will help release some flavors that you wouldn’t naturally taste if they were absorbed in water. The vodka also serves as a stabilizing ingredient, helping the fats and waters come together cohesively. Basically, the vodka is helping to release some of the flavors of the sauce, and help it come together into a smooth mixture.

Emulsifiers: If you don’t know what an emulsifier is, let me give you an example. Have you ever had to shake up an oil and vinegar dressing to the point where you might as well just skip arm day at the gym? I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “They’re like oil and water, they just don’t mix.” Well friends, oil and water don’t make a cohesive duo until the emulsifier is introduced into the relationship. My favorite emulsifier to add into a dressing is mustard. Add a little mustard to an oil and vinegar dressing, and they can all finally be friends. I’m thinking of so many analogies that can go with this, but again, I digress.

The point here is that the vodka acts as an emulsifier in this sauce, helping the tomatoes and the cream mix together and be more cohesive. The reality is that the alcohol will mostly all cook out, and you won’t really taste it. You will just have a more smooth, cohesive sauce. The problem is that my husband and I don’t drink vodka, and we definitely don’t have penne with vodka enough to warrant me buying something that I won’t even taste in the sauce!

I did some experimenting with an existing vodka sauce recipe to find one that was still creamy and cohesive, but without having to use the vodka. What I found is that I just had to cook the sauce down a little longer and I thought it tasted great even without the vodka serving as our sauce therapist.

So here is my adaptation of a recipe I found in “The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles.” Their original recipe is called Penne with Tomato Sauce with Vodka and Cream. I’m calling mine “Sober Penne.”