Creamy Pumpkin (or Squash) Pasta

Cooked pumpkin on pasta? Excuse me? This is not your grandmother’s pasta dish.

I am so old that my Swedish-born grandmother was one of the spaghetti eating pioneers of the late 1920s, early ‘30s. In Depression-era Waterbury, Connecticut, my grandparents’ Italian neighbors ate spaghetti with tomato sauce on it. Gram asked her neighbor for the recipe and made it for my mother and grandfather. “Of course,” mom said, “she left out the garlic.” Of course. In those days, no old bred-and-born Yankee like my grandfather ate garlic. During my 1950s childhood, we ate spaghetti with tomato sauce that my mom made from a Chef Boyardee kit, and when I was a kid pumpkin was relegated to pies and pumpkin bread.

But here we are in the twenty-first century experimenting like crazy with vegetables and eating all kinds of pasta—not just spaghetti—not to mention using copious amounts of lovely garlic. In fact, a couple days after I put roasted pumpkin and feta in the paper (way back in January) Gina Doyle of Ripley, sent me an e-note telling about a pumpkin mac and cheese recipe she uses

“Another idea for pumpkin is pumpkin mac and cheese. I came across a recipe in the BDN a while ago and have modified it somewhat to suit our tastes. Who can leave a recipe alone? The modified version follows. It fills a two-quart baking dish and easily feeds four to five people. This recipe easily doubles to fill a nine-by-twelve-inch pan if you’re feeding a crowd.”

I still have some butternut and pumpkin in storage but it won’t keep for much longer; time to use it up. We loved this combination at our house when I gave it a try with fettucine, except I left out the sage, not being fond of it. Gina uses gouda, “when I can find it,” she says, “otherwise I use cheddar or an Italian blend.” I put together a similar one using bits and pieces of goat and cream cheese I found in the fridge – peppered chevre, a bit of feta, a couple of spoonsful of crumbled blue cheese, and a dab of cream cheese. Lots of garlic in the butter.

There were no leftovers.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
Serves: 4-5
  • 8 ounces whole grain penne or your choice of macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup flavorful shredded cheese
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups pumpkin or squash puree
  • dried sage leaf
  • ¼ cup Italian bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the pasta according to directions on the package.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and whisk in the flour until it is smooth, and cook briefly until it bubbles.
  4. Add the milk whisking or stirring, and cook over medium heat until the sauce is slightly thick. Stir in the cheese until it is melted.
  5. Add the pureed pumpkin and sage, stirring until all is combined.
  6. Add the cooked pasta and toss.
  7. Pour into an ungreased baking dish.
  8. Mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle over the pasta.
  9. Bake for thirty minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.