There's something so soothing about a bowl of creamy pasta, especially as the days grow colder. It hugs your soul and lets you know that everything is going to be OK.
It also, if you're like me, makes a pretty direct beeline for your hips, like a catty reminder that you really could have had a salad.
This version, however, makes use of creamy pureed pumpkin to thicken the rich sauce (much like in my brown butter-pumpkin mac and cheese), rendering it thick and lush but with a hefty dose of fiber and a gorgeous autumnal flavor.
I like this topped with crunchy toasted pepitas, but it's also wonderful with caramelized onions and/or fried sage.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter $1 for a stick
1 clove garlic, minced Pantry
1 cup milk (any fat percentage) $1.50 for a pint
2/3 cup unsweetened, pureed pumpkin $2 for a 15-ounce can
1/4 cup plus a few pinches shredded Parmesan $3.50 for 8 ounces
dash nutmeg $1.50 for 1 ounce
salt and pepper to taste Pantry
8 ounces dry fettuccine (or other thick strand pasta) $2 for 16 ounces
toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) optional
Total cost of ingredients: $11.50
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add the half-and-half, pumpkin, and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Whisk over medium heat, until a sauce begins to form.
Let the sauce cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring ever other minute or so, until thick and creamy. Turn the heat off once the sauce is nice and thick.
Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
While the sauce cooks, cook the fettuccine in salted boiling water for about 1 minute less than the package directions suggest.
Drain and set aside, reserving about 1/8 cup cooking water.
Transfer the cooked pasta and the reserved cooking water to the saucepan with the pumpkin sauce.
Add the remaining pinches of Parmesan.
Toss gently to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce thickens even more and adheres to the pasta.
Serve topped with black pepper and the toasted pepitas, if desired.
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