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September 17, 2008

Dress Your Pasta With None Other Than Mr. Pumpkin


One does not often look at the pumpkin and think, “Wow, that is something I’d like to eat.” This, unfortunately, is a sign of how deeply brainwashed we are as a people.


Most of us think of the pumpkin as something that you first assault with a knife and carve out a toothy grin, and later in the year turn into pie as a follow-up dish to turkey. The truth is that pumpkins are like people – there are many different kinds that serve different purposes. That includes pumpkins as the source for pasta sauce.


We start by taking a leek.


Slice the white part of the leek and a stalk of celery into very thin strips. Sauté both in olive oil and minced garlic.


While they cook, attend to the pumpkin.


Cut it into pieces. Trim what would be the outside flesh. Also remove the seeds and stringy mess connecting the seeds to the flesh. Feel free to roast the seeds and season them as snack, for their role here is finished.


Once the outer and inner layers have been removed, cut the pumpkin pieces into very thin slices.


About this time, the leek and garlic will have become very limp and will perhaps start to brown. It is now that you will add the pumpkin slices. Sauté and mix them in with the leek and garlic. While those begin to cook, cut up some fresh green bell pepper. The role of these will soon become apparent.


As with all squashes, these will eventually become soft and limp, and will release some flavors into the surrounding ingredients.


Once the pumpkin has softened, move into a food processor and add some cream of celery soup.


Perhaps you are wondering why cream of celery soup, since you’ve already sautéed celery. The reason for this is the softened celery and soup will speak to each other, and the meeting will generally be a more amiable one.


Introductions completed, it is time to do something rather rude by spooning everything into a food processor and pureeing to a uniform thickness. The pumpkin and perhaps the celery will consider it rude, but you will have to get beyond this. Pasta is bigger than the ego of the individual ingredient.


What you have created is a thick, gooey sauce. You will make it even thicker by again moving it back to the original pan and folding in some shredded, fresh Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.


Toss the sauce with warm linguine. Look at it. There’s a problem in its appearance. If you were flying an airplane into a sky resembling this pasta sauce, the problem would be not knowing the difference between the sky and the ground. That is, the bland, nondescript appearance.


You can change that by adding two kinds of pepper – crushed red pepper for flavor, and diced green pepper. The green bell pepper will add little to the flavor, but will greatly improve its appearance, which is perhaps not so important after you’ve wolfed it down.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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