BREAKING NEWS Y’ALL: it’s pumpkin season!!
You didn’t know, right? Well, it IS kind of a secret. It’s not like you’ve been getting pummeled with all things pumpkin-flavored, pumpkin-scented, and pumpkin-hued since August, yea? Did anyone even bother to tell you it was FALL?!
Truth be told, I like pumpkin. In fact, I f___ing love pumpkin. I haven’t met a pumpkin recipe I don’t like, and eagerly await Fall each and every year so I can go cray on the pumpkin baking. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin doughnuts. Pumpkin custard. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkined pumpkin, with pumpkin. I want it all.
It might therefore come as a bit of a surprise that – before this week – I had only once tried my hand at a savory pumpkin dish. Why waste perfectly good pureed pumpkin on something that isn’t, well, filled with equal parts sugary deliciousness and creamy yummosity? Because, my friends, sometimes perfectly good pureed pumpkin can be mixed with chicken, bacon, sage and garlic, and make the dreamiest baked pasta EVER.
I had my doubts about this recipe. I don’t care for onions, and wasn’t convinced I would like the combination of chicken, bacon, and pumpkin. Silly me – this was SO tasty. My husband – who also doubted he’d like this – was instantly hooked as soon as he took a cheesy, velvety, pumpkiny bite. It is the perfect Sunday dinner; while a little extra cooking time is needed, you’ll have delicious leftovers for days!
It’s good to see you, pumpkin season. Stick around for a while, won’t you?
BAKED CHICKEN BACON PUMPKIN PASTA
Yields | 8-10 servings
Inspiration | Pinch of Yum
For the pumpkin sauce:
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 yellow onion
- Splash of white wine (optional)
- 1 large clove garlic
- 18 ounces pureed pumpkin (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh sage
- Pinch of freshly grated (or just ground) nutmeg
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
For the pasta:
- 1 lb uncooked pasta
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Crumbled, cooked bacon (as little or as much as you want)
To make the sauce:
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cut the onion into thin slices and add to the melted butter. Keeping the heat on medium-low, cook the onions until they are caramelized and deep golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. For a little extra sweetness, add a splash of white wine as they’re cooking.
- While the onions are caramelizing, puree the garlic, pumpkin, chicken broth, milk, olive oil, salt, sage, nutmeg, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Add to the caramelized onions in the pan and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chicken, cooking for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Remove from the water; when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into the pumpkin sauce. Add the crumbled bacon, if desired.
To make the pasta:
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, stopping a little early so they are still firm enough to hold their shape in the oven. Drain.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Toss the cooked pasta, chicken, bacon and pumpkin sauce with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Transfer to a greased baking dish, top with remaining cheese and cover with greased foil to prevent sticking. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin-Ginger Pancakes with Freshly Whipped Cream