We headed up to Michigan recently to spend time with family over Thanksgiving. It was great seeing everyone again, and as usual, we shared some memorable meals together. My daughter and I hosted Thanksgiving at her house and though we had the traditional turkey and ham with all the fixings, we also prepared some of my favorite Umbrian appetizers as well as this pasta dish. I had a creamy pumpkin sauce in mind, and wanted to make a baked pasta dish since we had almost 30 family members over for lunch, and I felt it would be much easier to have the pasta dish assembled before everyone arrived so I could just pop it into the oven when needed. Luckily the pasta dish turned out really well, but of course since I was cooking for so many I never measured anything, but simply kept tasting and adjusting as needed. When I was asked later to share the recipe it was impossible for me to do so since I never measured anything, and I knew I’d have to come home and replicate the recipe once again for 4 instead of 30 so I could actually share this recipe as it should be made.
Once I was back home, the second time I made this recipe I placed the pasta into individual oven-proof bowls before I baking, which is an option, though you could also simply use one large casserole dish if you prefer. The trick to ending up with properly cooked pasta when it is being cooked twice as in this recipe, is to really undercook the pasta when you first boil it. I cook my pasta half the time as is suggested on the box or even less, knowing that the pasta will be cooked once again in the oven. Nothing is worse than mushy pasta!
Deborah Mele 2012
Baked Pumpkin & Pancetta Pasta
- 1 Pound Dried Pasta Of Choice (Rigatoni, Penne, or Farfalle Suggested)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Medium Onion, Peeled & Finely Chopped
- 3/4 Cup Chopped Pancetta or Bacon
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
- 1 1/2 Cups Pumpkin Puree (Canned Pureed Pumpkin, NOT Pumpkin Pie!)
- 1/2 to 1 Cup Chicken Broth
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Sage Leaves
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Parsley
- Salt & Pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook pasta for one half the time stated on the package, drain and rinse.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot, then add the onions and pancetta.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is no longer pink and the onions are soft, about 7 to 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Combine pumpkin, chicken broth, whipping cream, sage, salt and pepper in medium bowl, then add the onion mixture.
- Lightly grease an oven-proof casserole dish.
- Mix the pasta with the pumpkin sauce mixture and pour it into the casserole dish.
- In another bowl, mix together the topping ingredients, then sprinkle them over the pasta.
- Bake the pasta 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.