No I will not say the S….r word! Autumn or Fall as we call it in the US is fast approaching with partial glimpses of Indian S….r if we are lucky. The evenings are cool and the wind is picking up, plums, apples and pears have replaced strawberries, boysenberries, peaches and apricots and of course the first local pumpkins have arrived at market stalls along with this year’s first fresh walnuts.
The colors of the pumpkin and the walnuts perfectly announce this third season of the year, letting us glimpses at the color palette of leaves that awaits us, as they will soon start showing their prettiest hue.
Time also to focus on new ingredients in the kitchen. My favorite pumpkin for all-round usage is the Muscade de Provence, a French heirloom pumpkin that can be found throughout Europe from the end of August until March. It can be baked, roasted, grilled, pureed, steamed or even eaten raw. Its firm textured, high quality flesh is bright orange, aromatic, fruity, slightly sweet and contains little water.
Muscade de Provence pumpkins can weigh between 7 and 40 kilos!! Here in Europe they are generally sold as a slice, or a quarter, I bought about 1 kilo, which came to 750 grams of flesh once the skin was removed.
I mixed the cubed pumpkin flesh, with roughly chopped walnuts, rosemary needles and thyme, pine nuts, brown sugar, honey, salt, some ground Szechuan pepper flowers that prickle on your tongue and olive oil and roasted it all in the oven until golden brown.
A local peeled barely ripe pear marinated in lemon juice, salt and Szechuan pepper added a slightly crunchy fruity contrast and the spinach tagliatelle an earthy and colorful texture that was a perfect complement to the sweetness of the roasted pumpkin. A cup full of grated hard goat cheese gave the whole a tangy finishing.
This dish is an explosion on your taste buds, a comforting dish that is not only tasty but also pretty to look at. And if you do have any leftovers, my son will attest to the fact that this dish tastes delicious cold too, if you can’t bother to reheat it.
When I posted the pictures of this meal via Instagram by dear food loving friend Karen Burns Booth commented: Autumn in a dish!
Hence its name and it truly is a delicious dish to welcome the early arrival of autumn.
Pasta with roasted pumpkin and walnuts
For 4 persons – prep time about an hour until served
- 750 grams / 1.63 pounds of Muscade de Provence or similar not too watery pumpkin, peeled and cubed
- 1/3 cup of dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of roughly chopped walnuts
- 1 ½ TBSP of pine nuts
- 1 TBSP of honey
- 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary needles or ½ tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
- 3 tsps of sea salt ground with 4-5 Szechuan pepper flower buds – set 1 tsp aside for the pear
- 1 pear, not too soft
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup freshly grated hard goat cheese
- 3 TBSP good quality olive oil – I used Jordan olive oil for this dish
- 750 grams / 26 ounces of uncooked spinach Tagliatelle or Linguine
Preheat the convection oven to 180° C / 350° F.
- In a large bowl mix the pumpkin cubes, brown sugar, honey, the herbs, 2 tsps of the ground sea salt and Szechuan pepper, the walnuts and the pine nuts. Mix very well.
- Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet or a covered with baking paper or a silicone mat. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes stirring once after 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, peel, core and cube the pear, place in a small bowl sprinkle with the lemon juice and the 1 tsp of sea salt and pepper mixture you set aside mix well.
- Boil salt water for the pasta. Remove 2 ladles and put them in your pasta-serving bowl to warm it up. Cook the pasta for 6 minutes or according to package instructions, drain well. Keep warm.
- Turn the oven onto the grill function and grill for 5 minutes watching closely so the pumpkin doesn’t burn. Turn off the oven and leave the door slightly ajar
- Pour out the water in the pasta bowl and add 1 TBSP of olive oil, swirl it in the bowl. Now add the pasta, scrape the pumpkin and nuts onto the pasta, add the pear and cover with the goat cheese.
Use salad tongs to toss the pasta. Taste and adjust seasoning or add move olive oil if need.
Voila, enjoy tasty Autumn in a dish!