For the Love of Cheese – Pumpkin Pasta Bake with Bacon & Sage

Pasta is splendid – it seems to always be the right answer to one’s dinner dream & it is easy and quick to make. Throw some seasonal veg, like roasted pumpkin, together with garlic, herbs, and cheese and you have a delicious, home cooked meal. I always add a bitter salad, quickly dressed with lemon juice & olive oil, as a side to my pasta meals to cut through the cheeses. But, that is a personal preference. Pasta on its own is a dish that is healthy and comforting at the same time.

Right now, pumpkins are everywhere and they make a delicious, creamy & slightly sweet, pasta sauce. Or, if you looove cheese (like I do), turn your pumpkin pasta sauce into a decadent pasta bake with nutty pecorino, sharp cheddar, & milky mozzarella, topped with some salty bacon and crispy, slightly fried, sage leave. Who could ever resist? And, more importantly, why would you?

Pumpkin Pasta Bake with Bacon & Sage

Ingredients for 4 

  • 800g Hokkaido pumpkin, seeds removed & cut into eights 
  • 2 small onions, peeled & cut into quarters
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & each clove slightly crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, freshly picked
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 150 g creme fraîche
  • 1 cup of reserved pasta water 
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 30g pecorino, grated 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 500 g dried pasta (I used Penne)
  • 70g sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1 ball of mozzarella (ca.125 g), torn into pieces 
  • 3 thin slices of good quality bacon or speck, torn into long slices
  • 10-15 sage leaves
  • some olive oil for drizzling 

Heat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius. On a tray lined with parchment paper, mix pumpkin, onions, garlic, chili, thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper the veggies and roast for about 25 minutes or until golden. 

In the meantime, cook your pasta for half the advised cooking time and reserve about a good cup of pasta water for the pasta sauce.

In a pot, add your roasted pumpkin mix & tomato paste and turn up the heat. Pour in the white wine & allow to reduce. Add the reserved pasta water, creme fraîche, and pecorino to the pumpkin-wine mix & blend until you have a smooth sauce using a hand blender (add more water for a more liquid consistency). Salt and pepper to taste. 

Mix 1/4 if the sauce with your parboiled pasta & season with some salt & pepper. Create several layers of pasta, sauce, cheddar, & mozzarella until your dish is full. Finnish the dish by scattering some cheese, bacon, & sage leaves evenly over the last layer. Drizzle with olive oil & bake for 20-25 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius or until golden & crispy. Enjoy!

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