It is pumpkin season! Pumpkin is an autumn vegetable, very tasty and suitable for the preparation of a variety of recipes. This recipe for pasta with pumpkin and amaretti cookies is a perfect, colorful dish on a cold and gray day.
Amaretti refer to the almond flavored macaroons, crispy and crunchy, which are traditionally from Saronno, a small city in Lombardy between Como and Milan. The taste of the pasta blends well with the sweetness of pumpkin, the addition of sage gives a fragrant aroma . The flavor is unique and special; it definitely satisfies the taste of those people who love combining sweet and savory foods.
I love this recipe because it reminds me so much of my childhood. In fact, this recipe is part of my family’s culinary tradition and goes back to my great-grandmother. Actually, I’ve never eaten it in any restaurant nor have I even seen it on the menu, so this is a true this is an exclusive for my readers.
The pumpkin that I use is the “zucca mantovana” (Cucurbita maxima, Kabocha). It takes its name from Mantua (Mantova), a city in Lombardy where it grows in abundance because the soil is particularly suited to this vegetable. Its pulp is tender and very sweet, with its flavor somewhere between sweet potato and chestnut, with an almost nutty taste.
PASTA CON ZUCCA E AMARETTI (PASTA WITH PUMPKIN AND AMARETTI COOKIES)
1350 g (3 lbs) fresh pumpkin (about 260 g, or 2 cups, mashed)
340 g (12 0z) penne
18 finely crushed amaretti
100 g (3.5 oz) butter
4-5 sage leaves
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch of cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cut pumpkin into 4 pieces, remove seeds and strings. Wash in water. Bake pumpkin at 200 °C -400 °F (see pumpkin risotto) or steam. While it is still warm, remove the skin and mash into puree
2. Bring approx. 3 liters of salted water to a boil, cook pasta for about 10-11 minutes until al dente (read the cooking time on the package)
3. While pasta is cooking, melt half the butter in a saucepan, add pumpkin and 16 crushed amaretti, nutmeg and cinnamon. Season with salt. Add a few tablespoons of the cooking water to make the pumpkin puree creamier
4. Melt the remaining butter in a pan with the sage to flavor the butter. If you prefer you can remove the sage, however I leave it because I really like its intense flavor
5. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water to add to the sauce. Drain and transfer the pasta to the pan, stir gently and add the sage-flavored butter. Transfer onto a serving plate and garnish with crumbs from 2-3 crushed amaretti, Parmesan cheese and pepper to taste.
Note: You can use any type of short pasta such as maccheroni , mezze penne , garganelli, tortiglioni and so on. You can substitute “zucca mantovana” with butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata). – Paola