I haven’t posted anything in over 6 weeks… I feel bad. Especially because I’ve been cooking, and baking, and experimenting a lot and I have SO MUCH to share! So I’m sorry.
Before everyone gets all worked up about Christmas (waaaaaah!!!) I thought I’d write something about autumn first.
“Write”… or “eat” might be better.
Basically, I hate autumn. I hate the end of summer, and the only good thing about autumn is when it fades into winter and the Christmas season. I mean, who likes cold, and humidity, and rain, and days getting longer? It’s always a very depressing time of the year. And don’t get me wrong! It contrasts perfectly with the happiest of time of the year and Christmas is all the more joyful and wonderful because it was preceded by this weird illness that makes you want to hibernate.
BUT, I’m not all negative. At least not all the time. And there’s a way to get through autumn: taking advantage of the food. That’s right! I mean, although I’m not autumn’s fan #1, I still have really good childhood memories of going mushroom and chestnut picking with my family in our wellies, either in the forrest or in fields. This brings me to my list of foods that help me get through fall:
-pumpkin… (and let’s be frank, even if you can now buy canned pumpkin all year long, it doesn’t feel right to cook with it unless it’s the last four months of the year)
-Mulled anything (wine, cider, apple juice, Pimms, you name it!)
And obviously anything that you can find on a Thanksgiving dinner table.
I’m getting carried away… FOOD! So, experimenting with leftover ingredients from Sophie Dahl’s pumpkin risotto, I was inspired to make this DELICIOUS pumpkin, sage and walnut pasta dish. Made it last night, made it today again. Might make it again tomorrow. Although it’s not the healthiest option so reserve it for those heavy carb days preceding a good sports day, or in my case a rowing regatta (because I was sucked in rowing by Oxford).
My recipe serves 1 person. So it’s perfect for any week night meal on your own (and who says you can’t eat that for lunch?!), but you can double it and make it a big batch to eat with a housemate, partner, family members, anyone special who deserves a warm comforting and autumnal pasta dish that will make them feel better about the constant humidity.
You will need:
-1 portion of short dry pasta, preferably little shells or tortellini that have a good shape to contain sauce
-4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
-3 chestnut mushrooms (or 2 or 4, does it matter?)
-1/4 cup white wine
-1.5 tbsp pumpkin puree (I use canned, but be my guest and use some homemade!)
-1 tsp of mascarpone, or double cream
-1/4 cup of walnuts that have been toasted
What’s great about this dish is that the sauce takes as long to cook as the pasta. So that means no longer than 11 to 12 minutes!
Put your pasta to cook in hot, salted, boiling water.
Melt your butter in a small/medium frying pan on a very low heat; add the sage leaves as it melts to infuse the butter with that wonderful flavour.
Meanwhile, wipe your mushrooms (avoid washing them with water, these act like sponges) and slice them. Throw them in the frying pan, getting the heat up to medium, so they can get some nice colour. Don’t touch them too much or they’ll get soggy.
Once they get some nice colour, season with salt and pepper and add the white wine. 1 minute later, throw in the pumpkin and 2 tbsp of the pasta water (never throw away that stuff! I always forget how useful it is for sauces). Let it cook and reduce a bit.
Chop your toasted walnuts and 2min before the pasta is cooked, add the mascarpone and half of the chopped walnuts.
Drain the pasta when it’s cooked and throw it in the frying pan to coat it with sauce, turning off the heat. Once the pasta is all coated, transfer to a place, top with the rest of the walnuts, parmesan and a couple of sage leaves for garnish.
And there you go! My favourite pasta dish at the moment. It’s quick, easy, feels fancier than pasta sauce in a jar and yet it takes as long as cooking the pasta so there’s no excuse!
Eat it and enjoy. I always eat it too quickly and feel bloated. I’m a terrible example. But yes, please enjoy!
I will hopefully post about my new healthy banana bread recipe soon… It’s really yummy.
Less than 30 days till Christmas!