Without question, this holiday is perfect for the season. We are in the season of the pumpkin. There are few vegetables that we embrace so wholly at one particular time of year than we do with the pumpkin. We put them on our steps and in our yards as decorations. We put pictures of them on our windows. We watch holiday specials on television about them. We put their flavor in our food and in our beverages too. The arrival of pumpkin spice lattes and the corresponding ballyhoo that comes with that is almost as much of a joke as it is a reality. While we may mock that, the flavor itself seems somewhat perfect for the season. The days are darker and shorter. The air a bit chillier. All of it perfect for the warm and welcoming tones of pumpkin. We have to admit that that Peter, Peter guy really knew what he was doing. He was the OG of National Pumpkin Day celebrations.
For my celebration, I could have gone the pumpkin coffee route (or even with a pumpkin beer). But truth be told, I am not a huge fan of pumpkin flavor – at least in my beverages. I suppose I can tolerate it in my food. I get the allure. I understand why people go crazy for it. I just don’t. I decided to look around online for something I could make with pumpkin. All of a sudden I found myself in a vast world of dinner recipes that all used pumpkin. I hadn’t considered that. After some scrolling, I landed on a recipe for Cheesy Pumpkin Pasta that I found on a blog called DomesticSuperhero.com. It was pretty easy and really just used any kind of pasta that you would mix with a sauce made from cream cheese and pumpkin puree. All I had to do was pick up the puree at the store and I would have everything I needed. That sold me. After Iw ent to the store, I got home and got to cooking while Lola was on a walk. This recipe had you cook the pasta right in the sauce which was unusual to me. I started by combining the pumpkin in a big pot with some garlic and broth. When that came to a boil, I dropped in my pasta. The recipe said I could use any kind of pasta so, in an effort to clean out my cabinet, I used a box of wagon wheels that have been hanging around for a while. That cooked for about 12 minutes and then I added in the cream cheese and butter. When that all melted, it was ready. I served it in bowls with some garlic toast on the side.
I’ll start with the criticism: I overcooked the pasta. I’m not sure how, but I did. That made it all kind of mushy and rather than having a sauce that stuck to a noodle, I had a spoonful of mush. But it was flavorful mush. If I were to make this again, I would use a sturdier pasta – probably farfalle or a thick rigatoni. I would make this again because outside of the mush, it was fantastic. It was a nice creamy pasta with the warm tones of autumn courtesy of that delightful pumpkin flavor. The pumpkin was just right – not overpowering, not underwhelming. I had also added some fresh sage into the mix too and that made things better and more warming. The whole thing was perfect with the garlic bread too as it gave the mush a crunch. It needed texture. It actually craved texture. We thought that for the next time, I might crisp up the sage leaves in some butter to help give it texture. But, overall, Lola loved it. It was a nice warm autumn dinner. She even had leftovers the next day which is a true sign of success. This would have been perfect had I not overcooked the pasta. But a success nonetheless.
Next year, in early August when Starbucks releases their pumpkin latte and Shipyard drops their pumpkin ale, I’ll join in the public mockery of the pumpkin craze. But when the season rolls on into October, I’ll pay more attention. I’ll give the warm and pleasant tones of pumpkin their proper due. I’ll visit them in dishes of sweetness and savoriness alike. I might even make another cheesy pumpkin pasta just for National Pasta Day, but this time I’ll make sure to use a more hardy pasta.
Next Up: National Potato Day