I haven't made a pasta dish in a long, long time. There are 2 things I can't be bothered with when cooking for myself at home and that's proteins and carbs. Boring right? That's why you mostly see baking recipes on here. My dinners tend to comprise of vegetables cooked in different ways (usually boiling or if I'm feeling adventurous, stir-frying) and mixed with something for flavor. Goats cheese and/or pesto is my go-to. I'll add lemon if I'm feeling 'fancy' and if I have nothing else, plain salt will do.
For 99.99% of the population this will undoubtedly sound like boring mixed with bland, but that's the reality of what I eat during the week. That should also explain why pumpkin pasta, despite not being the grandest of meal affairs, is still exciting to me and a step outside my comfort zone. It contains carbs after all (in the form of pasta). It's not that I'm a health freak (have you seen what I bake or eat on the weekends?) it's just that I'm lazy after work and like to keep things simple.
I found this recipe in the August 2012 issue of Masterchef Magazine and couldn't resist it because of its inclusion of pumpkin. If you ever need to sell me unneccessary insurance or a crook old car, throw in pumpkin on the side and it may just seal the deal. Mmm... pumpkin (I'm acutally roasting some right now; recipe to come).
The original recipe involves the use of capers and parsley. I altered it a bit to suit what I had on hand, which included spanish onion and thyme. I think it ended up being a great combination of flavors so I make no apologies for those substiutions. I also used some rye bread instead of sourdough and ham instead of bacon but I doubt that makes much of a difference.
Pumpkin and Bread Pappardelle with Ricotta and Thyme
- 400g peeled and seeded butternut pumpkin
- 200g piece rustic bread (I used rye; you need something a bit firm so don't whip out your bleached white sandwhich loaf)
- 100g leg ham (you can use bacon)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 3 tbsp ie around 3 sprigs fresh thyme (and more for serving)
- 375g fresh pappardell
- spanish onion, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon
- 150g fresh ricotta
1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celcius.
2. Coarsely grate the pumpkin. Tear the bread up into small pieces. Cut the ham.
3. Line a large oven tray with baking paper. Place the pumpkin on 1/2 the tray, drizzle with approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Place the bread and bacon on the other 1/2 of the tray, drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine.
6. Combine the cooked pasta with the pumpkin, bread, ham and spanish onion.
7. Roughly stir through the ricotta and fresh thyme leaves.
8. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of extra thyme. Salt and pepper to finish.
I have an admission to make. I ate a serving of pasta as soon as I finished and boxed 3 serves for later. When 'later' came about, I finished a box and it was so good I guiltily demolished another. I have only one box remaining.
That should reveal how much I enjoyed this dish. I was never a big user of fresh herbs. Call me the anti-Jamie Oliver if you will. But don't you find that often, you buy a bunch, use a few leaves for garnish and the rest goes black in a few days until you're forced to bin it? Although I maintain this is the usual occurance in my household, the use of thyme in this dish is starting to turn me around. It really added some jazz and brought pumpkin to a whole new level. I like my impromptu addition of spanish onion for the same reason.
The ricotta was a great compliment too because it's creamy but not overbearing. I'm not sure why grating the pumpkin was necessary... perhaps to cook it faster? I hate grating. I really hate it. If I was to replicate this dish, I'd forgo grating and just roast old school.
The other thing is... bread and pasta may seem like carb overload but nutritional values aside, it did add an interesting textural element to the dish. I would urge you not to leave it out. This is pumpkin and bread pasta after all.