This is one of those pasta dishes that will have you on a late night mission to the fridge looking for leftovers. The pumpkin makes a beautifully creamy sauce, and its sweetness is toned down by the kale, which has the dual purpose of making you feel healthy while you’re sitting in the dark twirling your fork though this silky linguine, with extra parmesan of course.
Sadly, most of my pasta dishes don’t get much thought. They are usually the product of a rummage through the crisper drawer, a can of tomatoes and a good amount of cheese, and are prepared on weekday evenings when I need to get something in my belly fast. They still turn out good though, because the whole thing gets popped under grill till the cheese is golden and bubbling, and that makes everything right with the world again.
This pasta is a little different. While it requires planning ahead because of the time required for the pumpkin to roast, it is still low on effort. You can forget about the pumpkin roasting in the oven and do something productive, like clean the house. Or make a snack while you think about how you’re going to clean the house later.
I was a kale skeptic until recently. That’s probably because the internet convinced me to make kale chips, and they tasted like disappointment. I did, however, see some potential, so I set aside my reservations and got a bunch for this dish. My kale aversion has been cured!
Linguine with garlicky roasted pumpkin sauce and kale
- 500 g linguine (I used wholewheat)
- About 1/4 of a pumpkin
- A bunch of kale, about 6 or 7 leaves (or a bag)
- 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- A handful of toasted pine nuts
- Parmesan, for topping
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 red chilli, sliced (optional – I need the heat)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place the pumpkin quarter in a roasting dish with the garlic cloves (don’t bother peeling the garlic, the peel will slide off easily after roasting). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the pre-heated oven.
- After 20 minutes, remove the garlic and set aside. Return the pumpkin to the oven and cook for another 30-40 minutes, till the flesh is soft.
- While the pumpkin is roasting, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve a cup of cooking liquid before draining.
- Rinse the kale leaves thoroughly under running water, then tear the leafy bits off the stalks and discard the stalks.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the chilli, if using and saute for a minute or two. Add in the kale and cook until wilted. Add salt to taste. Kale has a peppery flavour, so I don’t add any black pepper to it.
- Remove the pumpkin from the oven and scoop out the flesh. Slip off the garlic peels and combine with the pumpkin. Blend with a stick bender till smooth. Add the pasta water, a little at a time, to thin out the mixture. Taste, and adjust the seasoning.
- Toss the pasta through the sauce, then mix in the sauteed kale.
- Top with shaved parmesan and toasted pine nuts.