As an online chef you juggle pots, pans, camera and computer in order to churn out culinary creations to keep your followers drooling for more.
Fall is such a fabulous time to be in the kitchen. The colors, aromas, and brisk cleansing air breathes new life into your recipes. A time for warm flavors, spicy foods, and fresh starts! I unapologetically add another pumpkin dish into the culinary cybersphere. To the naysayers of the numerous recipes that incorporate the orange squash I say, tis the season, taste, and go with it. The holidays are brief and breeze by quickly.
Let's talk alcohol. The emerging variety of craft beers is a home chef's paradise! Often a recipe and shopping list begin with the adult beverage and then I develop edibles around that. Pecans are an all year long staple in my kitchen, so I was intrigued by this Abita Pecan Harvest Ale. Smooth nuttiness with a sharp finish to cleanse the palate. Salty ham brought out the floral blossom notes and it made a rich amber sauce similar to the shade of pecan. A fantastic contrasting affect on this full-bodied fall pasta.
Creamy sauce coats tender pillows of Panarese, an Italian pasta. It's more meaty and smooth than regular noodles or spaghetti. A pop of green peas, earthy sage, and decorated with snippets of country ham that provides a salty bite to slice through that decadent cream. Each crunch of pecan brings autumn to mind.
Now on to the real star of this culinary show, pumpkin. For this type of dish, I prefer the milder squash flavor of fresh pumpkin rather than canned. Just slice little pie pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake skin side up for approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. Then scrape the flesh into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Fresh fall squash flavor without the aluminum can taste. But canned is more convenient so use which ever fits into your schedule.
I freeze in 1/2 cup increments in plastic containers to use throughout the year. My African Grey parrot loves it. Make your own pumpkin oatmeal and of course this pasta meal anytime!
Either way, blended together with mascarpone cheese, the result is richness surrounding that substantial bite of pasta. Take to your next fall potluck, holiday party, or enjoy as a comfort food weeknight dinner!
With crazy schedules, it's also an important time to remind you that The Queens Empire encourages home chefs to join the Create More movement, which celebrates creative multi-tasking and helps artisticpreneurs pursue all of the right brain endeavors you desire without boundaries or being forced into a traditional box.
Pumpkin Pasta With Pecan Beer, Country Ham And Peas
Prep Time – 1 hour (if using fresh pumpkin)
Cook Time – 1 hour (if using fresh pumpkin)
Total Time – 2 hours
(subtract 30 to 45 minutes if using canned pumpkin)
Servings – 4 to 6
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- ½ of small onion, chopped small
- salt and pepper to taste (go light on the salt because the ham is salty)
- 3 slices of Red Eye country ham, divided. Have this sliced thin at the deli, then you cut it into ½ inch slices. Add 2 slices into the sauce pan and hold back 1 to stir into the pasta at the end. (this is less salty than traditional Smithfield ham)
- ½ cup Abita Pecan Harvest Ale (if you cannot find this one, use another fall or pumpkin beer)
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (I recommend the name brand stuff here for the best flavor)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (freshly roasted has the best flavor but you can use canned)
- ¾ cup frozen peas, unthawed
- 4 cups cooked pasta, which is about half a bag of Pasta Panarese. Cook according to package directions but al dente, as it will finish cooking in the sauce. (I used Pasta Panarese, sold in the specialty Italian section at most grocery stores, but you can use whatever you like) Reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water
- strips of the third ham slice for garnish
- 1/2 to 1 cup of pecan halves for garnish
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish
1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
2. Add sage and stir for about 30 seconds to release the fragrant oils. Be careful not to burn it.
3. Toss onions in along with salt and pepper. Cook until tender.
4. Add 2 slices of the ham and cook for just a minute or 2 or it will be chewy.
5. Pour in beer. Raise heat to medium high briefly until alcohol evaporates.
6. Turn heat back down to medium or medium low. Melt in the mascarpone cheese, whisking until smooth.
7. Then blend the pumpkin in, again whisking until incorporated with the cheese.
8. Next stir in the Parmesan until melted.
9. Add peas and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes until tender.
10. Toss pasta in and coat well with the sauce.
11. Pour in pasta water, a little at a time. You may not need all of it. Just enough to loosen the sauce up a bit.
12. Spoon into bowls, top with remaining ham, pecans and cheese. Serve immediately.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
If your grocery store doesn’t have Redeye country ham you can use traditional Smithfield ham. It just has a little bit stronger, saltier flavor.
Here are the instructions again for fresh roasted pumpkin that I outlined in the blog post:
Wash and slice little pie pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake skin side up for approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. Then scrape the flesh into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in well sealed plastic containers for 6 to 8 months.
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