Another season of basketball (5th), another year of Snackbeasting. Man, Snackbeast is getting old. If Snackbeast was a human, it would be in kindergarten this year. They grow up so fast.
Not sure if you’re aware but last season I was playing in Israel and ended up tearing my ACL in the second game of the season, ending any basketball I planned on playing for the next 11 months or so.
Yes I know I’ve been very off my game.
This year is going to be much different. Less talking, more snacking. The long dissertations that I’ve been giving have been nice, but I’ve been getting away from what Midnight Snack Beast was really meant for.
This year I’ve come back to Italy to play in Siena. Siena is in Tuscany. Tuscany is essentially in the middle of italy and is famous for it’s amazing landscapes (wineries for miles) and delicious food. If you haven’t already check out my Instagram for all of my food and basketball adventures across Italy.
Anyway, It’s October, my favorite month of the year. Which also happens to contain my favorite holiday of the year as well. Halloween and October mean nothing but foliage, apple picking, raking leaves, and, of course pumpkin everything.
Pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin Poptarts, pumpkin Oreos, pumpkin candy, pumpkin cookies… you get it. October means pumpkins. Now don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin, and I love pumpkin flavored things. This leads me into today’s Snackbeast.
Pumpkin pasta sauce.
For me, the more of a transformation from original form of raw ingredients to finished product, the more satisfaction and spiritual connection I get from creating something edible in my kitchen. When I cook something, I try to begin from the most raw and crude form of whatever I’m cooking, I just feel as though it creates a certain rapport between the cooker and the cookee(is cookee a word?). It’s almost as though the food tastes better when you start from its most raw form.
Let us begin: In light of my need to start from the most crude and raw form of the base ingredient, the pumpkin, instead of using pumpkin puree out of a can (which I guess you could do to increase the ease of creation for this recipe), I used real pumpkin. I cut it into inch – half inch cubes (give or take some other shapes) for the saute`
Post saute` you want some good color on these pieces of pumpkin and they will reduce down a good amount. The idea is to get them nice and soft, but still have their shape.
For anyone who has use of their own kitchen and does not have their own immersion blender, my only advice to you is: get one. Immersion blenders are SO useful when you like to cook. From creating the frothiest chocolate milk (with any added flavor you want) in existence, to the absolute smoothest pasta sauce ever, immersion blenders are a competent cook’s best friend, and they really aren’t that expensive either.
In this case, I used my immersion blender to turn the sauteed pumpkin into a nice pumpkin puree. In my opinion this seperates itself from the flavor of canned pumpkin puree, due to the fact that A. The color and slight browning on the pumpkin from the saute` adds immense flavor, but using an immersion blender is just plain fun.
What you’re left with is a pumpkin mash that you could probably use immediately on your pasta.
Now its time to take this pasta sauce from good to great.
Onions, couple cloves of garlic, rosemary, and a little bit of thyme all chopped up and tossed in the hot pan with olive oil
The idea here is once the onions become translucent and the garlic browns a bit, pour the pumpkin mash over the onion/garlic saute`and stir. What you’re left with is a highly viscous, version of the final product. A kind of loose pre-cooked pancake looking sauce. hmmm…. pancakes… pumpkin pancakes.. that’s actually a great idea. Definitely adding that one to the mental midnight snack beast list. I’ll run some diagnostics on that some other night.
At this point you want to add a light dusting of nutmeg and an even lighter dusting of cinnamon. It adds an autumny layer of flavor to the sauce that will make it memorable, neigh, astoundingly unforgettable.
We now add about two dollops of panna (cooking cream, Italy), in America, you’ll want to use heavy cream. Stir that in.
This should bring down the viscosity of the mush now.. a bit more runny, which is what we want here. Continue to cook and flip it around in the pan.
Now we grate some fresh Sardinian pecorino cheese on top… letting that settle into the mix a bit to melt down. You dont need to use specifically pecorino, I lived in sardinia for a year so I am partial to it. Parmesan works just as well.
By now you should be boiling your pasta. Which leads me to the (kind of) secret ingredient. Not really much of a secret, but once the pasta is cooked, take about 2-3 cups of that salty pasta water and add it to the pumpkin. This is what will turn the mush into a sauce. Add the water accordingly to your preference of sauce viscosity. If you add too much, just cook it down a bit, it will thicken up some.
What we are left with is a smooth, but rustic (slightly chunky), sweet pasta sauce that only begs to be clinging to the interstitial ridges of some al dente cooked penne.
Perfection. Sprinkle some rosemary and black pepper on and you have yourself the most delicious pumpkin dish that you’ll probably eat this October. Or November, since there’s only one day left in October.
I didn’t eat all two pounds of pasta I made so the next day I whipped up some pan seared chicken breast and tossed that in with the rest of the pasta.
This whole process took me about 30 minutes to do (add an extra seven for cutting up the pumpkin) and is incredibly easy to do in your own kitchen.
Have a good Halloween, be safe while trick or treating, and don’t eat too much candy. I’ll see you again sooner than you think…
Beast on, fellow snackers