Monday, October 25, 2010

Meatless Monday: Pumpkin-Chevre Pasta & Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Ah, the humble pumpkin! It graces us with its presence each October, ushering in a season of ghouls, goblins, candy corn, and becostumed walks of shame.

Usually relegated to cruel mutilation or cloyingly sweet pies, it's underused in savory dishes. Its mellow squashiness, however, lends itself perfectly to sauces, soups, and otherwise non-sugar-based applications. Pairing it with chevre was a random choice, but an all-out success! The sauce was smooth, slightly tangy, and tasted deeply of autumn.

Ross turned to me and said, "What is this?" as he shoveled another forkful in his mouth. Me: "Why?" Ross: "It's incredible." That's what I like to hear! He wasn't quite as jazzed up about the Brussels & chickpea salad, but not too many folks get giddy over miniature cabbages (what can I say - I'm a freak!). Actually, the salad is so hearty, it could stand alone as a vegetarian main dish. And, although it's Meatless Monday, I couldn't help but think how amazing it would be with a little pancetta or hard Spanish chorizo.

Don't be fooled by the nacho-cheese-esque appearance of the pasta sauce - this is one to serve to company. If you were having a dinner party with vegetarian guests, it would be an elegant main dish. It would also make a fantastic first course. If you're a normal person who doesn't plan their life around dinner parties, it makes, well, a scrumptious stormy-night-in dinner.

I'd recommend stocking up on canned pumpkin before it disappears into the night like a Halloween spirit. You'll want to make this all winter!


2/3 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
2 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 can unsweetened, unseasoned pumpkin puree
1 small log goat cheese (chevre)
~10 sage leaves
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg (or a sprinkle of jarred ground nutmeg)
~1/2 cup chicken broth
~1/4 cup pasta cooking water

~15 small Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper and red pepper flakes
~1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar or red wine vinegar)
splash of chicken broth


Boil spaghetti until al dente. Drain, then set aside.


Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in for the Brussels Sprout salad in a pan. Add Brussels sprouts to pan and season with salt and pepper. Let cook without stirring or shaking the pan for about 10 minutes, until undersides of sprouts start to brown. Add chickpeas and stir. Cook for a few more minutes. Add vinegar, more seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cover and let vinegar cook for a few minutes. Uncover and let vinegar evaporate. Add chicken broth and re-cover. Cook for a few minutes, then uncover and let it evaporate, too. Taste and adjust seasoning. If it tastes good, take it off the heat and keep it warm in a bowl.


Meanwhile, heat butter and oil for pasta sauce over medium high heat in a Dutch oven or other pot. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is soft and translucent. Add chicken broth, sage, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pumpkin and chevre, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until chevre and pumpkin are mixed and sauce is one homogenous color. Cook over low heat until noodles are ready. Stir in a little pasta water if sauce gets thick.


Add cooked pasta to sauce (or vice versa) and stir to combine. Serve pasta alongside warm salad. Enjoy!

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