Falling For Pumpkin (yes it's a pun, no I'm not sorry)
The hard frosts are kicking off here in Canberra and pumpkins are everywhere. My housemate picked up a HUGE beauty from a roadside stall the other day and we've been making our way through it. I wanted to try out a few different things and I've had fair success so here's a (virtual) taste of what was cooking tonight at The Flat Of Happiness.
Cavatelli are a small hand-made pasta that I learnt to make at a restaurant where I was working not long after I finished my apprenticeship. We made the pasta with chestnut flour and served the tiny shells dripping with jus as an accompaniment to smoked duck breast. I remember spending hours and hours rolling the small shells down a ridged wooden board to create the stripey indents that help the pasta hold onto the sauce. The chestnuts from that original dish have created an unshakeable association between Cavatelli pasta and Autumn flavours so when I thought about different ways to use pumpkin, it was naturally Cavatelli that came to mind.
I made a puree from diced, roasted pumpkin. Obviously the moisture content will make a difference to any recipe but I reckon I added about one and half parts flour to my one part puree. With a splash of olive oil and plenty of salt it all came together into a pliable dough; it was a beautiful golden colour too! Armed with a glass of wine (and netflix) I spent a perfectly pleasant hour rolling tiny balls of dough down that ridged board with my thumb. The shape is not unlike a tiny hotdog bun, or a long shell.
Having made an accidentally vegan fresh pasta dough I resolved to make a vegan friendly dish (because vegans are people too). Creamy sauces are generally a write-off for those avoiding dairy, however, I've found that a cauliflower based sauce is an excellent substitute. I cook mine with brown onions, garlic, nutmeg, and a little seeded mustard. When blended with olive oil and HEAPS of salt and pepper you can almost imagine a life without cheese (Almost. Don't go overboard).
Pangrattato has long been an obsession of mine. Literally translated from Italian it means breadcrumbs but it is so much more. Recipe: blitz up good leftover sourdough with whatever herbs and seasonings you fancy. I recently combined my love of Za'atar with my love of pangrattato and made a crumb with sesame, thyme, sumac, and garlic. I am having trouble finding words to articulate how excited that made me. Tonight it was sage, walnuts, garlic, olive oil and a LOT of pepper. The smell wafting from the oven was insanely good.
These three elements combined altogether created a thoroughly Autumnal meal. Sweet earthy pasta, creamy cauliflower and crunchy toasty crumbs.