Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors that really represents the coming of fall. I have actually never cooked fresh pumpkin before, and was pleasantly rewarded when I put together this dish! My inspiration came from this gorgeous sugar pumpkin at the farmer's market this weekend - however, I have also seen sugar pumpkins at our local supermarket, so you don't have to go to the farmer's market to make this dish. Sugar pumpkins are in between the size of smaller decorative pumpkins (which are inedible) and the larger pumpkins that you use to make jack-o-lanterns. The combination of the flavors of pumpkin, feta, walnuts, and sage is fantastic. It's also a pretty easy recipe - the hardest part is probably peeling the pumpkin, which isn't that difficult. You could use a vegetable peeler but I found just peeling it with a knife was easiest.
Pumpkin, Feta, Walnut, and Sage Pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
1 sugar pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1'' pieces
1 T. + 1 t. chopped fresh sage leaves
1 cup walnuts
4 oz. feta cheese
12 oz. short whole wheat pasta, such as shells
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel and cut the pumpkin and toss in a large bowl with 1 T. of the chopped sage leaves, 1 T. of extra virgin olive oil, and 1/2 t. salt. Roast for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a small skillet over low heat. I always used to roast nuts over high heat to get them done quicker, but after about 10 batches of burnt nuts, learned that it's better to do it over slow heat for slightly longer. It doesn't take too long - about 10 minutes. Still, keep an eye on them and stir occasionally. Once they are fragrant and lightly browned, remove from the pan, set aside, and roughly chop the nuts.
Once the pumpkin is getting closer to being done, prepare the pasta. I like using shell shapes here because it holds onto the pumpkin, feta, and walnuts nicely.
When the pasta is almost done, heat 2 T. of extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the remaining 1 t. sage. Let this warm together for a minute or so and turn off the heat.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 c. pasta water first.
In a large bowl, combine the roasted pumpkin, pasta, and walnuts, and crumble the feta over the top. Pour the reserved pasta water and sage-infused olive oil over the mixture, add 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper, and stir to blend well. To serve, crumble a little more feta over each dish, if desired.
This is one of my favorite things I've made, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Happy Fall!