Pumpkin Alfredo with Crisped Herbs and Baby Kale
Updated: May 14, 2021
In the Midwest, Spring can feel a bit chilly all the way into June. When the weather turns to windy and gray, I tend to think of "fall" foods for my meal plan. I had some pumpkin puree leftover from a pumpkin smoothie (fail!) and I have pasta-loving children (aren't they all?) Oh, I also have sage! Immediately, I was inspired to recreate a warm pasta dish I had in a rustic Italian Chicago restaurant ages ago with crispy sage.
This recipe is 90% pantry ingredients meaning you can use what you have and minimize your shopping list for the week by putting this pasta on rotation. Minimizing and planning your weekly dinner recipes can ensure you use the fresh ingredients you buy before they become food waste. The strategy also maximizes your budget and your sustainability goals.
Don't be daunted by the number of sauce ingredients - I bet you have most on hand! Trust me, building flavors is always worth the effort in the end; Love what you eat, and eat what you love. I think you are going to have a hard time not loving this!
3/4 cup cashews (unsalted & soaked for at least 2 hours unless you have a Vitamix - I don't need to soak with mine) - I adore Glenda's Cashews from Sam's Club!
1 cup filtered water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast - Frontier Coop has the best I have tried (they only sell in bulk, but that's not a problem for my house!); get it on Amazon or Walmart.com
1 Spanish onion (chopped)
5-6 garlic cloves (diced)
2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 lemon (juiced)
1 tbsp white miso
1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for saute)
1 lb spaghetti (or angel hair pasta) - Note: I reserve ~1-2 cups of cooked noodles for my kids before adding sauce, so you could likely use 12 oz here and be fine.
fresh sage leaves (sliced)
fresh thyme leaves (de-stemed)
baby kale (chopped) - or any other greens you have on hand (arugula, spinach, regular kale)
Set a pot of salted water to boil
In the meantime, heat ~ 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large saute pan over Medium-High heat. Once it shimmers, add the diced onion and caramelize (stir infrequently for ~5-7 minutes -onion will soften and start to become golden). Add the garlic and cook for ~1-2 minutes more; just until fragrant. Place cooked onion and garlic in a high-speed blender and set pan aside (we will use it again - don't clean it out!)
Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions - once ready to drain, do not rinse. Reserve ~1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in the pan. This will thin our sauce and make it silky all while adding restaurant "cling" to your noodles.
Add all remaining sauce ingredients to the blender with the onion and garlic. Blend on high for ~1-2 minutes (Vitamix) or 5-6 minutes as needed (scraping down sides as necessary)
Return reserved pan over Medium-High heat and add another tbsp olive oil. Once it shimmers, add sage saute (stir this one frequently) for ~1-2 minutes until fragrant and starting to crisp or brown. Add thyme and remove skillet from heat.
Add your pumpkin sauce to the pasta pan (which should already have your 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid). Finally, add the chopped baby kale (it will sufficiently wilt in the heated pan with the noodles). Stir well until all ingredients are incorporated.
Serve a generous portion of your pasta topped with crisped herbs
Gorgeously vibrant, the pasta would be pretty served on a large platter to guests if you wanted to impress anyone with your vegan cooking skills. You may even convince a few that vegan is better than anything cooked with dairy. = )
I hope you enjoyed this recipe; if you did, I'd love to hear about it!
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie