Leap and look: Whole wheat pasta with pumpkin cream sauce.

You know how sometimes you kind of just get an idea into your head, and you simply can’t rest until it’s been seen to or otherwise sorted out? And you can’t stop thinking about it, it haunts your dreams and makes everything else seem sort of…beige in comparison? This recipe was one of those.

Pasta with pumpkin sage cream sauce

From the first second it popped into my head, it was a constant companion; the fact that my gratification was almost endlessly delayed (I couldn’t get the ingredients; then, I couldn’t schedule an evening; blah blah) made it a siren whose wail could not be ignored. I was helpless in its embrace. I had to make it, or I was going to pop. And so, not being one to tempt that fate, I succumbed to the inevitable and finally made it happen.

Yes, yes. I finally got to make whole wheat pasta with a pumpkin and sage cream sauce.  Oh! Oh, yes! And what a delight it was.

The recipe is a riff on a risotto that I developed a few years ago, made creamy and dreamy with the application of a little bit of milk and a lot of Gruyere, and possessed of a spicy warmth, courtesy of the nutmeg I recklessly tossed in. This flavor profile, when developed so many years ago, was one of my first great cooking revelations–it was the moment that I first became brave enough to toss together disparate flavors (such as nutmeg and sage) just to see what would happen, and realized that some of the world’s greatest dishes grow out of inexplicable (and sometimes seemingly bizarre) juxtapositions of flavors. It taught me that if you’re going to make something spectacular, you have to be brave enough to throw out what you know from time to time. It taught me that you have to let go of feeling safe and just fucking GO for it.

A good lesson to have refreshed upon occasion, no?

Whole wheat pasta with pumpkin cream sauce

8 oz pumpkin puree (about half a can)
1c milk
1 c water or stock
2 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
1 onion, minced
1 tsp nutmeg
2 generous handfuls grated Gruyere cheese

1 lb whole wheat pasta, prepared according to packet instructions.

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent (bordering on golden)
  2. Add the nutmeg. Saute for another minute
  3. Add pumpkin, milk, and stock; stir gently until incorporated.
  4. Add the sage.
  5. Reduce heat and cook the sauce VERY GENTLY until it’s reduced by about 1/3.
  6. Add the cheese, whisking vigorously to make sure it’s properly incorporated.
  7. Toss the sauce with the pasta, distributing evenly. Serve with more cheese and (if you’re feeling enterprising) a poached egg on top.
In fall, pasta, pumpkin

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