Pumpkin, Portobello & Pepita Pasta Sauce

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My parents are do-it-yourself-ers. They can make or repair a lot of things that most people would just buy or hire someone to fix.

My dad can build furniture, repair cars, and fix most things around the house (although he really doesn’t like plumbing). One time he even made me a “stereo” by building a wooden box to house an old car radio. He also made me learn how to change a tire and the oil in a car before he would teach me how to drive.

My mom is super crafty (the sewing-type not the sneaky-type). She made almost all of my clothes when I was little. She can also make curtains, quilts, and pillows. When Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage and really hard to get, she made me one instead.

One DIY activity that my parents do together is food preservation. They freeze summer produce to use throughout the year. They also do a lot of canning–jams, pickles, and fruits. When I wanted to make the apple butter pork tenderloin from my last post, I got a jar of apple butter from my mom rather than the store. And when I thought about creating a pumpkin-based sauce for pasta, I grabbed some pureed pumpkin from my freezer that my mom gave me when she had an abundance of pumpkins.

Having DIY parents taught me a lot about self-reliance and patience. They showed me that if you want something specific, you don’t have to settle for what you find at the store. It takes hard work and time, but there is also the satisfaction in making something with your own hands.

Since pumpkin season is here, I thought it would be nice to share a recipe that uses actual pumpkin, not just pumpkin pie spices. (I’m looking at you pumpkin coffee beverages–you are delicious but you’re not really pumpkin flavored!) I also shared how my parents break down a pumpkin into puree which can be frozen for later for a little autumn DIY project.

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Pumpkin, Portobello & Pepita Pasta Sauce (my own creation)

2 cups pureed pumpkin (see recipe below or Notes for other options)
5 large sage leaves, chopped
4 Tablespoons butter, divided
Salt & Pepper
8 ounces sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional, leave out to make this vegan)
16 ounces gnocchi (or other pasta)

Heat 2 Tablespoons butter in a large  nonstick pan. Add the pumpkin puree and chopped sage and heat until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.

In a nonstick skillet heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter. Saute the mushrooms until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the pepitas and saute for another 3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.  Add the cooked pasta to the pumpkin sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of pasta water. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese, if using. Serve the pasta with the portobello-pepita mixture over top.

Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Notes: If you don’t feel like making your own pumpkin puree, substitute cooked winter squash puree (which comes in a brick shaped box in the frozen section of most supermarkets). I’m not sure if canned pumpkin puree would work in this recipe because it is much thicker and more concentrated. If you try it, let me know in the comments.

How to puree & freeze pumpkin:

Cut the top off of your pumpkin and remove all the seeds & “guts” (like you’re going to make a jack-o-lantern). Cut the pumpkin up into chunks. Cut the hard orange rind off any pieces that have it.

Put your pumpkin chunks in a large pot. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the pumpkin can be easily pierced with a knife (about 30 minutes).

Drain all the water off of the pumpkin chunks. Blend the cooked pumpkin until it is pureed (I like to use an immersion blender right in the pot).

If you want to freeze it, measure 2 cups of puree into plastic bags (which you should label) and squeeze out as much air as possible. Lay the bags flat on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. You can take the bags off of the cookie sheet and stack them once they are completely frozen.

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