Pumpkin Rotini: It Isn’t Marinara Mark II

I’ve decided there’s no such thing as enough pumpkin this season. I’m hoping that if I eat enough of it, by the time the grocery store stops stocking them for the year I’ll be so thoroughly sick of pumpkin that I won’t even mind that it’s gone.

It won’t work, but it’s the excuse I’m going to keep feeding my husband so that he doesn’t complain about pumpkin pasta and roasted pumpkin and and pumpkin with honey-soy glaze and of course the pumpkin cookies. Not that I’ve ever heard him complain about a cookie, but still.

This pasta sauce is amazing. I always forget, when I don’t eat pumpkin for awhile, just how rich and creamy it is. Then of course I add cream. Cream makes everything better.

As far as marinara sauce replacements go (of all the things to be allergic to, why tomatoes? They’re everywhere!) I think this is a win. No one would ever mistake it for tomato sauce; it’s bright orange and thick and not nearly as acidic as a tomato sauce would be. However, I doubt anyone would complain if this were served instead, especially when it’s cold outside and you just want something rich and hearty to dive in to.

Ingredients (serves four, or me for dinner and then three days of packed lunch. Yum!)

2 T butter

1/2 of a 3-4 pound pie pumpkin

nutmeg, to taste

12 oz rotini, penne, or other short pasta

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4-1/2 cup reserved pasta water or white wine

1/4 cup grated parmesan

salt to taste

rosemary, to serve


Peel the pumpkin and cut it into about 1-inch cubes.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet.

Add the pumpkin to the skillet.

Grate about 1/3 to 1/2 of a nutmeg over the pumpkin.

Pop a lid over the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally if your stove is awful and uneven but otherwise leaving it covered, for about 40 minutes. Cook the pasta while you wait, and put a bowl under the colander to catch the pasta water.

The pumpkin should fall apart when poked with a fork at this point.

Mash it thoroughly with a fork.

Add the cream.

It will take a couple of minutes to assimilate the cream. Be patient and stir it in.

Add the parmesan next.

Then the pasta water, a bit at a time until the consistency says “sauce” to you. I like mine pretty thick, so I only used a little over 1/4 cup of water. If you want a more acidic sauce, use white wine here instead. For a richer flavor, use chicken or vegetable broth.

Since I was making this for lunches for work,  I didn’t bother tossing the sauce and pasta together in a bowl. Just pour the sauce in a big Tupperware  container.

Add the pasta to the container, put the lid on, and shake it.

Serve with peas and crusty bread and lots of lovely fresh rosemary.

The best thing about this, I think, is that it it seems to go with everything. I spread the sauce that was left when the pasta was gone over toast and it was better than butter. I made the sauce a second time with wine and poured it over mixed steamed vegetables. Mr. B claimed it was better than cheese, and he usually won’t even eat cauliflower without cheese. But it’s at its best on pasta.


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