There are only two things that represent October more than anything: Halloween and most of all: pumpkins. As the temperatures cool and the leaves turn, these large shiny orange squashes start popping up everywhere: shop windows, gardens, front porches. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that pumpkins and other types of squash are not just a great Halloween/autumn accessory (though, those jack-o’-lanterns are pretty cute), but they’re a delicious addition to your autumn dinner table too — on the plate that is.
While many love a thick slice of pumpkin pie, I usually prefer to incorporate this sweet squash in savory dishes (these no-bake pumpkin cheesecake ghosts are an exception), such as in this roasted pumpkin soup, this Halloween quiche, or this pumpkin hummus. But since we had some lovely pumpkins growing in our garden on Naxos, I’ve had a lot of freedom to try out some new pumpkin recipes as well. This one here is a simple one, but it’s already one of my new favorites: farfalle with pumpkin sauce and salty Italian speck – a deliciously smoky, cured ham. I particularly like the Italian speck in this since it’s smokiness pairs beautifully with the sweet pumpkin, but if you can’t find Italian speck, smoked bacon or even unsmoked pancetta will do just as well.
Pasta with Pumpkin and Speck / Pasta con Zucca e Speck
- 500g pumpkin, or squash
- 150g Italian speck (Sudtiroler speck / Speck Alto Adige)
- 1 small onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Few sprigs of rosemary
- Few gratings of nutmeg
- 300ml water, or vegetable stock
- 350g farfalle, or other short pasta
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Freshly grated Parmigianno-Reggiano
- Prep: Carefully peel pumpkin and remove the seeds. Dice the pumpkin into 2cm dice. Cut the speck into batons or dice as well. Peel and very finely chop the onion and do the same with the garlic cloves.
- Add the oil to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Allow the oil to get hot.
- Add the chopped onion, garlic and sprigs of rosemary to the hot pan. Sauté for a few minutes until the onion gets glossy, then add the speck and cook until it starts to brown and get slightly crispy.
- Add the diced pumpkin to the pan and grate over some nutmeg then add 300ml of water or vegetable stock and cook on medium heat until the pumpkin turns soft but doesn’t fall apart completely (15 - 20 minutes).
- In the meantime, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil for your pasta. Cook pasta according to instructions on the package. When your pasta is done cooking, drain and save a couple tablespoons of the cooking liquid.
- When the pumpkin has turned soft mush some of it with the back of a wooden spoon to make a sauce.
- Add drained pasta to the pan with the pumpkin sauce and season with some salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir and cook all ingredients together for 1 – 2 minutes more until the sauce nicely coats the pasta.
- Serve immediately with some Parmigiano-Reggiano grated on top.