Happy belated Thanksgiving from sunny Florida! We've eaten plenty of delicious food over the past several days, but that doesn't keep us from reminiscing about other meals past. Last weekend, I ran the Philly Half Marathon under A's name- a nagging knee injury kept her from completing any real training- but she was still a wonderful spectator, even inviting me over to partake in our usual pre-race ritual: pasta eating. This time, we went the easy way by visiting the pasta bar at Whole Foods- fresh pasta is the best way to go. We came up with a simple mix of ingredients that came together quickly and still seemed extra fancy.
First up: a little sauteed pancetta. Nothing like some salty, cured pork to provide a flavor base for this dish. We used four ounces to build a meal for four.
About a third of a very finely chopped purple onion joined the pancetta, gaining a few crispy edges and softening in the middle to dial down the bite.
The small cut of the ingredients made for a quick cooking time- five minutes later we drained the meat and onion onto a paper-towel lined plate. We decided to add a little green to the mix, tearing some leftover kale into bite-sized pieces and tossing it into the pancetta-oiled pan for a few minutes to wilt.
The pasta was a fresh radiatori sourced from Severino Pasta Company across the river in New Jersey. A pound was the perfect amount for this dish- and at $3.99/lb, it was a steal! Other ingredients necessary to finish the pasta: 1/2 a can of pureed pumpkin, an equal amount of full-fat ricotta, and a few grates of fresh nutmeg.
Melt the pumpkin and ricotta down on low heat, adding a few splashes of milk to thin things out a bit.
The ingredients will melt down and form a cream sauce- seasoning the sauce is a good way to distribute flavors throughout the pasta- especially with pasta shapes with lots of crevices like radiatori! We kept it simple with the nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
Fresh pasta only needs a few minutes in boiling water to cook through. We added the pasta to the cream sauce immediately after draining. Add the pancetta/onion mixture and kale as well and mix gently to incorporate everything together.
We also roasted asparagus (extra-skinny, just the way I like it!) and a garlic-rosemary rubbed pork tenderloin. Truly the perfect pre-race meal, but it was also fun to eat as a "double date" with the guys.
The pasta dish could be amped up for an entree with a can of white beans or cubed chicken breast, and was just the right mix of fall flavors. Pumpkin this and pumpkin that seems to infiltrate every store and restaurant during the autumn months, but this dish forms a savory alternative, and with heartier flavors from the meat and greens, is just the depth of flavor and comfort we need on a cool night.