I was absurdly pleased this weekend to be the recipient of a small but perfectly formed pumpkin. I did ask the giver why she was donating this pumpkin to me and she replied that it was because she had two. That seemed perfectly reasonable to me.
I could, and have, baked bits of it. I can’t blog about that, a child could bake pumpkin, not that they would because then they’d have to eat it. What I’m going to do tonight is make it into a sauce to go on top of the fresh pasta I’ve just bought from Peppe’s. Here’s a picture of the ingredients.
I’ve made this one before, this is how it goes.
Chop the pancetta (I’ve got 100g, and you could use bacon if you don’t live in an Italian neighbourhood). Start frying it in a medium saucepan while you chop the celery and onion. It doesn’t matter what kind of onion, I’m using French shallots because they’re quite mild and sweet. I have used green onions and been scolded thoroughly by my sister who says they’re an Asian onion and you can’t go mixing cuisines like that. She may have neglected to notice that we live in Australia and that’s exactly what we do, so don’t listen to her.
Pop the celery and onion in with the pancetta. If you think it’s a bit dry, slug in some olive oil. I also put in garlic at this point. A local nonna told me that Italians don’t put chopped garlic in, they slice a clove in half and put it in, then remove it before serving, so give that a go. When it’s all starting to smell rather tasty, throw in quite a lot of chopped pumpkin and a cup of chicken stock. Yes, I do make my own, why, does that annoy you? Have you seen the price of decent chicken stock? Making your own takes very little time and is practically free, and I’ll be going into that another day.
Place a lid on the saucepan and go help your children with their homework and get the washing in. Also, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil, so that when you want to cook your pasta you don’t have to wait. I don’t bother with salt or oil. After about half an hour you should be able to poke a knife through your pumpkin pieces pretty easily. That’s when you should start cooking the pasta. Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook, but you do need to stab at it with a fork to stop it sticking together. Back to the sauce. You could either squash up the sauce with a wooden spoon, which is what I do because I like it chunky. Or zip it with the stick mixer, which is one of the few electrical gadgets I have in the kitchen. If it’s too runny, let it boil uncovered for a few minutes longer while stirring it (unless you like scrubbing burnt pumpkin off pots). At the very last moment, stir through a good handful of chopped parsley, it tends to lose its oomph if cooked too long. If you’re not concerned about your schoolgirl figure, you could also stir in some sour cream, but I really don’t think it needs it. A sprinkling of parmesan is all I put on it after serving it up.
Tonight I’m going to bribe the children to try some. Wish me luck.