Nov 6, 2011

Chunky Pumpkin n' Pasta

I make Italian food at least twice a week. Usually it's on weekends when we don't feel like paying through our noses for restaurant food and I still have a few tricks up my fridge from my shopping spree in Italy. There's nothing like eating a home cooked bowl of pasta while sitting on the sofa watching a film about a chef. The film I'm referring to is Toast, about chef Nigel Slater. The film is co-written by the chef himself and chronicles his early childhood memories from his canned-food loving mother to his sneaky but excellent cook step mother. His love for food started young like many of us and he was able to turn his life around to become a leading chef of Britain. 

In India and particularly in Bombay, sandwiches are available on every street. The Khau Gallis (streets where only food is made and sold) have a minimum of 3 stalls selling toasted sandwiches. Only in Bombay, you can find a sandwich that costs anywhere from Rs.15 to Rs. 150 on the street! They have endless stuffing choices and you will be charged depending on how posh the stall is. I also see many places have different rate cards for the weekends now.  The toasted ones are surely not vegan since they smother the bread with butter on top before toasting. The reason I rant so much about the sandwich is because I am getting to the ketchup served along with these sandwiches. On a recent junk food binge, I happened to read a label of a ketchup bottle at a sandwich stall. You usually associate ketchup with lots of tomatoes. But in this country we have found a cheaper alternative - Pumpkins! This particular ketchup had no tomatoes. Pumpkins, sugar, salt, preservative and some food colour! You can tell the difference if you are a ketchup geek because usually they are lumpier and tend to look a little more orange than red.

So here I was wanting to make some pasta for lunch and I didn't have any tomatoes. What's the next best alternative? Why Pumpkin of course! Pumpkin is very commonly added to pasta sauces, I haven't really invented anything new here. K was very skeptical about this attempt of mine because I left the pumpkins in big chunks and didn't puree them. But if you prefer a purée, just go ahead and blend it up at the end of the cooking and you will get a nice bright orange pasta sauce.

You need:

1/4 kilo Yellow Pumpkin cut into bite size chunks
1 onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
6-7 Mushrooms (which you could avoid and add capsicums instead)
Fresh/ Dried Oregano
Fresh/ Dried Sage
Red Chilli Flakes
Olive Oil
Nutritional Yeast (Optional)
Pine nuts as a garnish (optional)/ you could also use walnuts

Cooked Pasta of your choice (I used Penne)

Sauté the garlic, herbs and onion until the onion is translucent. Add in the yellow pumpkin and chilli flakes. Cook till it is nice and tender. I covered it so it cooked faster and kept checking on it in intervals. Add nutritional yeast (optional), salt and mix with the pasta. Garnish with nuts.

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