The absolute number 1 ingredient to use in Autumn has to be pumpkin, no doubt about it. Unfortunately a lot of people stick to the basic ways of using it though, by making pumpkin soup or roasted pumpkin. I for sure used to be one of them too but as I had already tried combining pumpkin with pasta before, I wanted to try it again but in a different way. The first time I tied this I added beautiful chestnut mushrooms sautéed in a red wine sauce with rigatoni and rucola and kept it quite basic and I’m doing the same thing now, I’m simply combining pumpkin with coconut milk and adding a few extra herbs and spices and that’s it.
I’ve even left out any meat, poultry or fish but I think this recipe can easily go with quite a few other ingredients like bacon, white fish, chicken or even beef.
The two key ingredients in this recipe are packed with great health benefits as well. BBC Good Food: “Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Coconuts contain significant amounts of fat, but unlike other nuts, they provide fat that is mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) in particular, one called lauric acid.
Lauric acid is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral and antibacterial that destroys a wide variety of disease causing organisms. It is therefore now thought that consumption of coconut milk may help protect the body from infections and viruses.”
Now I know a lot of people freak out when they read something has fat in it but there is absolutely no reason to ever cut out fat from your nutrition. Livestrong: “New research has revealed that not eating enough fat can actually make you fat. According to Bruce Fife, N.D. in his article “The Fat that Can Make You Thin,” people who include more healthy fats in their diet, such as the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut milk, eat less than those who don’t get enough fat. While all fats help the body feel full and satiate the brain receptors that control appetite, the fat in coconut milk may increase metabolism and perhaps increase weight loss on a reduced-calorie diet.”
On top of that coconut milk also has acids that have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral functions. It’s also good for your skin and hair.
Pumpkin scores even better when it comes to health as it’s an extremely nutrient-dense ingredient, filled with vitamins and minerals and yet low in calories. Medical News Today: “Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like pumpkin decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality. It can also help stave off diabetes, heart disease, and promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Pumpkin is one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body once it is eaten.
Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease, and delay aging and body degeneration.”
Serves: 4 people
- 400ml coconut milk
- 1 small round pumpkin (not butternut squash)
- 8 grinds of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of tarragon
- 2 teaspoons of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
- 500g linguini
- parmesan cheese
The preparation is very easy and basic. Start by washing the pumpkin, cut in half and remove the pits and then slice it up into equal wedges. Don’t make them too wide as it’ll take longer to roast in the oven. Go for wedges of about 2cm wide.
Add some olive oil to a roasting tin and place all the wedges on it. Pop in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes, until the skin of the pumpkin becomes soft.
Let it cool down a little bit before touching it, you don’t want to end up with burnt fingers! Now all that’s left to do is peel off the skin and add the pumpkin flesh to a food processor. Add the coconut milk and spices and mix until you have a smooth sauce.
Cook the linguine according to instructions and stir in the sauce once the pasta has boiled and you’ve drained all the water. Serve with some parmesan cheese and a sprig of rosemary and an extra grind of pepper.