Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bonus Recipe: Pumpkin penne

Earlier this month, I jumped the gun a bit on my Recipe of the Month post. I decided to count a variant on a recipe we'd already made as if it were a new recipe, mostly because I wasn't sure we'd actually get a chance to try a brand-new recipe this month. As it turns out, however, my worries were unfounded. On our last trip to Aldi, we found that in addition to their usual weekly sale fliers, they up a copy of their free holiday recipe booklet, which contained several veggie recipes, including this pumpkin sage cream farfalle. And since we also happened to have half a carton of ultra-pasteurized cream in the fridge from our last visit to Trader Joe's, which we had already discovered was more or less useless for whipping no matter how much we chilled it first, this seemed like a reasonable way to use it up.

Normally, the first time I try a recipe, I like to follow the directions exactly as written, since I know it's been tested that way. Then, after tasting it, I'll make any adjustments I think it needs for the next time I prepare it. In the case of this pasta, however, the recipe as written looked so ludicrously rich that it seemed reasonable to tone it down a bit. First, we scaled the entire recipe down to 3/4 its size, since we happened to have 3/4 cup of leftover pumpkin stored in the freezer that needed using up. Then, rather than using a full cup of cream to this volume of pumpkin, we used the half cup we had and eked it out with an equal volume of skim milk. We also scaled back the amount of cheese in the recipe from 3/4 cup to just 1/3 cup (and substituted Parmesan for Romano, which I don't like). And we substituted a plain yellow onion for the Vidalia the recipe called for, since once cooked, the difference in taste is hardly noticeable.

Even with these adjustments, the sauce was very thick and creamy, giving the dish a consistency rather like macaroni and cheese (an impression further enhanced by the pumpkin color). As for its flavor, it was very mild, with no particular flavor dominating. I think if we were to make it again, I might be inclined to boost the ratio of pumpkin to cream still more, bringing out the pumpkin flavor and further reducing the fat in the dish. I think one can of pumpkin to one can of evaporated milk might be a good ratio, and it would avoid leaving any pesky leftover that would need to be squeezed into some other recipe somehow. But then, given that we already know so many good things to do with pasta, it's unlikely we'll make it again at all. Its only real benefit is that it's a reasonably good way to use up excess pumpkin, and for that purpose, I prefer Brian's pumpkin chiffon pudding.
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