A few weeks ago, for Halloween, I found myself called upon to carve a pumpkin lantern for the first time in my life. And when a small person makes such a demand, resistance is futile.
We bought a small pumpkin on the market, scooped out the seeds, and then set about scraping out as much of the pumpkin flesh as possible, before starting to carve the face. I actually got a decent bowlful of pumpkin flesh – more than I thought I would – and cooked it up into a cheesy pasta dish for that night’s tea. And thought no more about it.
However, a while later, Kipper asked if we could carve another pumpkin. I said no, Halloween had been and gone, and in any case the pumpkins had largely disappeared from the shops. She looked downcast. We talked about it some more. It transpired that what she really wanted was another bowlful of the lovely cheesy pumpkin pasta! And in her pre-schooler logic way, the route to this was by making another pumpkin lantern…
We didn’t get a pumpkin, but I did have a small butternut squash from our organic box, so I promised to make the pasta dish again with that. She seemed satisfied with the compromise.
In the event, this wasn’t exactly the same (even allowing for the pumpkin/butternut squash substitution). The first version had leeks in it, I think, but we didn’t have any second time around. However, it was sufficiently cheesy, orange and delicious to pass muster with my smallest, and fiercest, critic, who ate a big plateful.
If you make this, you can substitute leeks for the onions to recreate the original pumpkin pasta, but I’m not sure I didn’t prefer the onion-butternut-squash version anyway. DH scoffed both versions down. It’s pretty yummy either way.
Serves 2 adults and a voracious small person. Call it three.
- 2 small or 1 medium onion
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small pumpkin or butternut squash (approx. 550g)
- 0.5 tsp dried rosemary
- 50g cream cheese
- 3-4 tbsp cream or milk
- 35g grated cheddar cheese
- 0.25 tsp ground nutmeg
- Cooked pasta, to serve
- Peel the onions and dice finely.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes until softened.
- Meanwhile peel the pumpkin or squash and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into small cubes. Add to the pan with the rosemary, stir well, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin/squash is tender.
- Add the cream cheese and cream/milk and stir well to combine. Keep warm over a low heat.
- When ready to serve, turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and nutmeg. Mix with the pasta and serve at once.
Since the squash was from my locally-sourced organic veg box, I’m entering the Shop Local challenge, over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. And November’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers, is on the theme of bonfire night – when this creamy, comforting pasta dish would have been perfect.
Finally, since the pumpkin in the original pasta dish was a by-product of lantern making, this recipe surely qualifies for the No Waste Food Challenge, hosted this month by Slice of Me, and organised by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.