After a few conversations with different people in the course of a week, I concluded that the heavens were telling me to create this dish. Yep, that is my story, I am sticking to it, and, after you try this dish, you will agree with me.
Conversation Topic #1 – Pumpkin Patches are starting to set up this time of the year and I volunteered to help unload with my church. As I lifted pumpkins, rolled wheelbarrows, and help stage them on bales of hay (imported to South Florida, no doubt, for authenticity!), I thought about all of the possible ways to use pumpkin besides in a pie.
Conversation Topic #2 – I taught an overly anxious and eager group of teenagers how to make homemade pasta. It is much easier than you think; but it is time consuming compared to opening a box. Of course, fresh pasta, the flavor and the texture, are worlds away from dried pasta. Is dried pasta inferior to fresh pasta, they ask. No, I answer, fresh and dried both have their merits and the ingredients in both are generally the same. You can flavor fresh pasta with whatever you want – which is an advantage. Score! Together, we make a spinach fettuccini with fresh spinach. We pair it with a Mushroom Alfredo Sauce. Not sure, but I thought I heard them calling me a Culinary Goddess. Yep, this is a true story to the best of my recollection.
Conversation Topic #3 – “We should pick up something for dinner tonight at the farmer’s market,” she says. “Is this cauliflower okay?” “Yeah,” I say, half-paying attention because…. “Look at these fresh pastas! Beet, porcini, pumpkin, squid ink….” Yes! Get the cauliflower.
Conversations Topic #3.5 – “You know,” starts the stranger, who is intruding into my conversation, “I had this pumpkin pasta on South Beach and the chef grated amaretti cookies over the pasta like Parma. It sounds weird but it was delicious.” I smile, ignoring the intrusion and thinking to myself – sounds like dinner to me.
Make the Pumpkin Fettuccini first:
makes 11 – 2oz portions
2 c semolina flour
1 c all purpose flour
1 c canned pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 t olive oil
1 t kosher salt
- Combine semolina, all-purpose flour, and kosher salt; make a well in the center of the flour mixture big enough to hold the eggs, half of the pumpkin puree, and olive oil; using a dinner fork, beat eggs, pumpkin, and olive together in the middle of the well slowly pulling in flour from the sides of the well to form a dough; adding the remaining pumpkin before pulling in all of the flour
- Knead dough by hand to bring the dough together (it should be very stiff – if not, add more semolina flour); place dough in a stand mixer and knead for 5 – 7 minutes until dough is smooth; wrap in plastic, place in refrigerator, and allow pasta to rest for 30 – 45 minutes to relax gluten
- Unwrap dough, it should feel slightly tacky but not dry; cut into 8 – 10 equal pieces; pass through a pasta roller starting on setting 1 twice; then on setting 3 twice, and finally on setting 5 twice; lay pasta sheets out on a clean dry kitchen towel that is sprinkled with semolina flour and sprinkle a little semolina flour on top of the pasta sheets; repeat until all pasta is rolled out
- Don’t stack pasta on top of each other and don’t cover; pasta sheets should begin to slightly dry out as you finish rolling out the remaining pasta
- After pasta sheets are complete; allow them to continue to air dry for 20 minutes (Psst! Go prepare the roasted cauliflower.)
- Starting with the first pasta sheet you rolled out; pass each sheet through a fettuccini cutter; lay fettuccini back on towel to continue drying; sprinkle with semolina if it feels sticky; repeat with the remaining pasta sheets
- Portion pasta into bird’s nests or fold into bundles and place on a semolina dusted towel
Making Pumpkin Fettuccini is not a quick process so make it a project for when you have the time – I promise you will totally appreciate the investment. Use canned pumpkin instead of roasting your own pumpkin. It is easier, quicker, and the moisture content is perfect for making pasta.
The easiest way to lay out the pasta sheets was on my dining room table. I covered the table with clean kitchen towels; sprinkled the towels with semolina flour; and, voila, instant pasta resting and drying station
Fresh pasta cooks faster than dried pasta and this pasta will cook even faster than the fresh pasta that you will buy from the market if you cook it on the same day that you make it. Expect the cooking times to vary. After pasta comes to a boil, fish out a piece and taste the pasta to determine it’s doneness.
This recipe will make enough Pumpkin Fettuccini for 11 servings (at 2oz per person). You will only need 6 oz for the recipe below. The remaining pasta can be store by leaving the bird’s nest or bundles out at room temperature for 24 hours to thoroughly dry and then freezing for up to three months. To cook from frozen state: simply boil water and drop pasta in, as you would dry pasta.
Pumpkin Fettuccini w Roasted Cauliflower, Amaretti Crumbs, and Sage Brown Butter Sauce
serves 2 generous portions
6 oz Pumpkin Fettuccini fresh pasta
½ cauliflower, cut into florets
1 – 2 T olive oil
8 – 10 fresh sage leaves
4 t unsalted butter
4 – 6 Amaretti cookies, crushed
2 – 4 T Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
kosher salt, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 450-degrees
- Toss cauliflower, olive oil, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper on a sheet pan; spread into a single layer; roast for 20 – 25 minutes until caramelized and tender
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta
- Melt butter in a large, shallow skillet over medium-high heat; add sage leaves and swirl pan until butter becomes toasty and brown and sage leaves are fragrant; remove sauce from heat
- Add kosher salt to boiling water; cook pasta for 2 – 3 minutes; using long tongs, carefully remove the pasta from the boiling water; add it directly to the Sage Brown Butter Sauce
- Return sauce and pasta to medium-high heat; add roasted cauliflower florets; ladle in just enough of the pasta water to thicken the sauce, approximately ¼ cup; continue tossing until sauce becomes slightly thickened
- Transfer pasta to warm plates; garnish with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and crushed Amaretti cookies
The keys – yep, KEYS! – to making this dish, work is the nutty (1) Sage Brown Butter Sauce, it is simple and classic with pumpkin. The (2) Roasted Cauliflower offers a drastic visual contrast against the orange color of the pasta and gives the dish a “meaty” mouth-feel. Finally, do not underestimate the power of the (3) Amaretti cookies in this dish. Their sweetness rounds out each mouthful of this silky fresh pasta highlighting the subtle delicate pumpkin flavor while playing masterfully against the savory saltiness of the Parmigiano Reggiano… and providing a textural boost.
Pumpkin Fettuccini w Roasted Cauliflower, Amaretti Crumbs, and Sage Brown Butter Sauce is an ethereal experience so I am pretty sure it would be a great way to celebrate celestial and otherworldly visitors on Hallowe’en.
always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!