This Pumpkin is Getting Saucy

By Dara Schwartz

When the first harvest of sugar pumpkins hit market stands, I’ve been known to overload my tote to the point of dragging pumpkin luggage behind me, reacting as if there is some seasonal shortage of these rounded orange beauties. I soon realize that there is no possible way I can haul this load on bike and transport it to my home. I slowly (and sadly) restock the farmer’s table with each pumpkin that had a vision, “bye pumpkin flan, bye pumpkin cheesecake, goodbye pumpkin soup, . . .” allowing two pumpkins for myself with a destiny unknown.

While staring at the chosen pumpkin pondering its fate, it occurred to me that we as a society have imposed an identity on the pumpkin—an associated end result of sweetness. I won’t argue that when roasted, the flesh is in fact sweet, or that pumpkin desserts are indeed heavenly; nor am I suggesting that the pumpkin is going through some sort of identity crisis. But why must we so often force the pumpkin to be a dessert, or some form of a sweet bite? It’s time for the pumpkin to break out of its flesh and introduce its alter ego–the sassy pumpkin.

I kicked my old standby pumpkin recipes to the curb (for now) and decided to challenge my taste buds by experimenting with a sauce—which lends the perfect opportunity to build flavor through layers of sweet and savory notes. Building upon the respected sweet and pungent pumpkin spice, dessert-like aromas, I added freshly grated aged parmigiano reggiano, dry white wine and heavy cream to unlock rich nutty flavors.

The end result? A rich and tangy cream sauce with nostalgic aromatic overtones of combined sweet and spiced cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne heat and smoky deep flavors of clove—a subliminal accent to delight those senses. It was a pleasing balance of sweet and savory—not overpowering, yet subtly seductive. Could the combination of spices be acting as aphrodisiac agents? Who knows. What I do know is that my new challenge is trying to resist the lust for more sauciness.

Keep those taste buds dancing.

Farfalle with Roasted Pumpkin Cream Sauce and Crispy Pancetta and Fried Sage Leaves

Serves 8


2.5 cups of pumpkin purée (unstrained)
1 small to medium sized onion chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons fresh sage minced
1 teaspoon nutmeg plus 1/8
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/8
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pepper to taste
Olive oil
8-10 ounce farfalle pasta
2 oz slices pancetta cut into 1/2″ x 1″ slices
Sprigs of sage for frying
White cheddar shavings

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions (8-10 minutes for al dente.) Drain pasta and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.

2. In a deep saucepan, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add minced sage and toss for 30 seconds.

3. Add spices and pumpkin purée to the pan and stir for about 30 seconds. Stir in chicken stock and apple cider and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes.

4. Add white wine and lemon juice and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

5. Stirring frequently, add heavy cream until sauce is uniform in color. Add grated parmesan and stir until cheese has melted into sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Pour sauce into a food processor and blend until smooth. Return sauce to pan and warm over low heat.

7. Meanwhile, add pancetta slices to a frying pan over medium heat. Fry until crisp and transfer to paper towel to drain.

To serve: Toss together sauce and farfalle and garnish with crispy pancetta, fried sage leaves and shaved white cheddar.

Special Cooking Note: To adjust thickness of sauce, add more stock to desired consistency.

The fried sage leaves can be cooked a day in advance and stored in an airtight container. Pumpkin purée can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Just like soups, sauces always taste better the next day. Storing the night before allows all the flavors to blend.

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