After dabbling in low carb eating for a while, I’ve come full circle and have been truly enjoying the world of carbohydrates. It must be the change in seasons, but I’ve really been craving the white stuff. For the time being I’m OK with it. I was spending a lot of energy on thinking up exciting ways to be low-carb and it was truly difficult. Part of it is the pressure of keeping the blog going (which I love doing so I never wanted to put it on hold just because I was on a ‘diet’). The one time in my life when I was extremely successful being on a low carb diet was before my wedding. I was so focused and pretty much ate the same thing every day as I only had myself to cook for.
These days cooking for a ravenous family makes being on a diet so much more challenging. The kids are always begging me to cook pasta for them so I thought, why not, let’s do lots of pasta meals.
Pasta is such a great thing to cook and eat because it’s cheap and it’s so easy to have several packets stashed away in the pantry at all times. I know that if I have a packet of pasta and a tin of tomatoes in the pantry, I can always get a meal on the table.
That said, today’s pasta dish is a little more complicated than that (but only ever so slightly). I was inspired by seasonal flavours in sweet butternut pumpkin and sage (always a winning combination) teamed with salty prosciutto. I’ve used rigatoni pasta because I love how the large tubes catch the sauce, but you could really use any tubular short pasta such as penne, pasta shells or orecchiette.
I’ve seen a lot of recipes that call for the pumpkin to be baked first then added to the pasta, but this is a lot simpler because it’s all done in one pan.
8 thin slices prosciutto, torn roughly into pieces (you could substitute roughly chopped bacon if you prefer)
8 sage leaves whole, plus an extra 2-3 leaves, finely chopped
1/2 butternut pumpkin (squash) deseeded, peeled, and diced into 2 cm cubes
1 knob butter
6 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
approx 500 mL hot water from a kettle
250g rigatoni or other pasta shape
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve)
juice of one lemon
Put a large pot of water for the pasta onto the hob and bring to the boil with the lid on.
Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a wide based frying pan. When hot add the prosciutto and sage leaves. Fry until crisp (about 2 minutes).
Tip the contents of the pan through a sieve or colander over a bowl to catch the oil. Take 2 tablespoons of this reserved (now flavoured) oil and pop it back into the pan. Throw in the diced pumpkin and leave to get brown without stirring or touching for about 4 minutes (medium heat). Then give it a little mix around to get golden on all sides, about another 4 minutes. When golden, throw in the knob of butter, sugar and nutmeg. Season well with salt and pepper.
Add in the spring onions and chopped sage and stir for a minute, then add enough boiling water to barely cover the pumpkin. Simmer for around 8-10 minutes until about half the water has evaporated and the pumpkin is tender.
By this stage the pasta water should be boiling. Season well with salt and throw in the rigatoni. Cook for about 12 minutes, or follow packet directions for timing.
To bring it together combine the drained pasta with the pumpkin mixture. Add the grated parmesan and stir together to make a creamy sauce. Then add your crispy fried sage and prosciutto. Check for seasoning then serve with a little extra grated parmesan and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.