Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pasta al Forno with Pumpkin and Pancetta

It turns out pancetta is not the easiest ingredient to find. First I checked my regular grocery shopping locations; Costco, QFC and Safeway, but no luck. My mom told me Trader Joe’s carries it, so I went there, and yes there is a spot on their shelf for pancetta, but they were out! So finally I had my mom pick up some for me at Pacific Food Importers, a awesome store in Seattle where you can find all good food! And not only did my mom pick it up for me, but she delivered it to me at work. Is that a great mom, or what?

I found several pancetta recipes I want to try, but this one really stood out to me because it has pumpkin in it and even though we’re still having summer in the pacific northwest, I’m so excited for all things fall and pumpkin including Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, Costco pumpkin pie and pumpkin risotto. What’s your favorite pumpkin dish?

I took the easy route and didn’t roast a pumpkin or squash, but just used canned pumpkin (Costco size!) which made this a totally doable, easy weeknight dinner. The canned pumpkin made the pasta dish a beautiful orange color and the pumpkin flavor blended so well with all the cheese and pancetta. Both Curtis and I loved it and it got me excited for fall comfort food!

Pasta al Forno with Pumpkin and Pancetta
Recipe from Food52.com

Serves 6 - 8

1 3-4 pound cheese pumpkin or butternut squash (I used a 29 oz. can of pumpkin instead)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, diced
1 pound conchiglie rigate aka shells (I used rigatoni pasta)
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 pound shredded fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup fontina, coarsely grated
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola
2 tablespoons ricotta
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into 8 equal wedges and arrange on two baking sheets lined with foil. Sprinkle the wedges with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for about an hour, until the pumpkin is caramelized and tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle the pumpkin without burning yourself. Or take the easy route like I did and use canned pumpkin. 

In the meantime, crisp the pancetta in a medium saucepan over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels, discarding the fat.

Turn the oven up to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for exactly 5 minutes, drain and run cool water over it for about 10 seconds. Set aside in the colander.

Scoop enough of the cooked pumpkin from the rind to make 2 cups. Combine this with the cream in a blender and puree just until smooth (be careful not to overblend, or you’ll whip the cream). Scoop out some more of the pumpkin (you probably won’t need the whole thing) and chop roughly to make about a cup and a half. Since I just used canned pumpkin, I skipped the blender and added the pumpkin and cream to the pan I cooked the pancetta in and stirred it up! 

Combine the pumpkin and cream puree with the cheeses, salt, thyme and pancetta in a large bowl and stir gently to combine. Add the pasta and the chopped pumpkin and fold together just until combined.

Spread the pasta evenly in a casserole or baking dish. Bake uncovered for 7 to 10 minutes, until the top is browned and the bottom layer of pasta is just tender.


  1. Wow this looks to die for! This gets me excited for comfort food too and it looks easy, I love it. So I went to TJs in WS first because it's my new obsession and couldn't find it there, so I now have everything I need for my pancetta dish except the pancetta.

  2. This looks so so yummy. I want this in my belly right now! I found Pancetta at The Market in Bellingham, but they sure didn't have it at Fred Meyer. I had no idea it was hard to find. I will be posting my recipe this week!

  3. Holy crap, does that look amazing?!? I love you, Emily. That is all.

  4. As usual, I am in awe!! This looks awesome. All hail super star Emily.