Every year, usually in October, I celebrate “Pumpkinpalooza”. It’s a tradition that started several years ago when I decided to bake a pumpkin pie, beginning with the pumpkin, for my Miami-native wife, Jeanine. It was only after I had roasted and pureed a 7+ pound french sugar pumpkin that I realized: Pumpkins aren’t scaleable. Sitting on at least a quart of pumpkin puree (after consuming the “Pie that Began It All”) I decided to bake pies for my neighbors. Word got around, more pumpkins were roasted– and about 20 pies later a tradition was born. As the years have gone by I’ve dedicated my autumn to imagining, finding, and creating as many pumpkin recipes as my kitchen will allow!
It’s not October and technically autumn hasn’t begun– but I’m too excited to wait. So the first recipe will be a pumpkin pasta with a pumpkin vodka sauce. I adore vodka sauce (and who doesn’t like fresh pasta) but for some time I’ve been dreaming of a pumpkin-based vodka sauce, and brother, this is the one! First, let’s deal with the pasta. You can use dried, regular pasta of any shape really, but if you use this recipe it will make your pasta blush with pumpkin (and it really is heavenly with the pumpkin vodka sauce).
For the Pumpkin Pasta:
1 1/2 C All-purpose flour, sifted.
1 1/2 C Semolina flour, sifted.
4 T Pumpkin puree.
1/3 C Olive oil.
1 Egg yolk.
1/2 t Salt.
By Hand: On a large, flat work surface whisk together the flours and salt, then make a mound and dent a “well” in the flour mound. By the way, if you don’t have a flour sifter, stir your flour up with a wire whisk before dipping out your measure. Whisk together the eggs and yolk and pour into your flour well, then the puree and oil. Using your fingers begin working the flour into the well by pushing the top ridge down and gradually working your way out until a crumbly meal forms.
By Food Processor: Whisk the flours and salt then put them into the processor. Whisk the eggs and yolk and then add them to the processor along with the oil and puree. Pulse with the blade several seconds until a crumbly meal forms
Knead the Dough: 8-10 minutes on sturdy, flat work surface by leaning your body weight into the heels of your palms and/or knuckles. Work the dough out into sheets, fold then repeat until it becomes smooth and elastic, then let the dough rest in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
Process the Dough: Divide the dough into four balls, rolling them into your hands until they reach room temperature process them into the shape of your choice using a pasta roller or extruder. You can roll it out by hand on a floured surface with a heavy pin. Roll slowly and pull the dough away from the roller (it WILL stick) with floured fingers (an assistant is helpful if you try this technique). You’ll want your sheets to be about 1/8″ thick or less, then you can use a pizza cutter to cut thin strips of fettuccine noodles. When the noodles are processed they need to dry about 20 minutes on a rack, on the back of a chair, or a clean tea towel.
For the Pumpkin Vodka Sauce:
1 + 1 C Chicken broth.
1/2 C Heavy cream.
1/2 C Vodka.
1 C Pumpkin puree.
1 Onion, diced.
1 Bay leaf.
8 Sage leaves, chopped.
4 garlic cloves, cracked whole.
1 + 1 T olive oil.
White wine vinegar.
1 lb sweet turkey sausage, casings removed.
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional).
Ground chili (optional).
Salt & Pepper.
While the Pasta is Drying:
In a large sauce pan over medium high heat fry the turkey sausage in 1T of oil, breaking into bite-sized pieces as it fries until the sausage is brown throughout. Don’t stir too frequently, you’ll want this sausage to crisp up nicely. Remove the sausage from the pot and let it drain on some paper towels. Deglaze the pot with a splash or two of white wine vinegar, then in the other T of oil fry the onion, garlic, bay leaf and sage until the onion is soft (approx. 5 minutes). Add 1 cup of chicken broth and simmer until reduced by half, then remove the bay leaf. Add the remaining chicken broth, vodka, cream, puree and turkey and simmer over low heat stirring frequently until mixture thickens (approx. 10 minutes).
While the Sauce is Thickening: bring a stock pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta, it will cook almost instantly 2-3 minutes. Reserve a few tablespoons of pasta water and drain. Toss the pasta with the pasta water and then toss the sauce with pasta, salt and pepper to taste, and serve garnished with parmesan and a pinch of red chili pepper.
Makes 4 generous servings.