Truth be told, if someone told me that a vegan pumpkin pasta can taste as creamy and delicious as a pasta with butter and cheese, I would have probably ignored it as a ridiculous rumour. But when I tried making it in my own kitchen as an experiment, I was truly bowled over by the results! It did take me a few trials to get the perfect recipe, but I knew from the first attempt that this creamy vegan pumpkin pasta is nothing short of magnificent. It is so easy to make, celebrates the beauty, sweetness, textures and taste of seasonal pumpkin, and is light on the stomach because of the missing dairy elements. If you are vegan or you are looking for vegan pasta recipes to make, you are going to fall in love with this creamy vegan pumpkin pasta recipe.
This vegan pumpkin pasta is better than I imagined. The base is a creamy sauce of roasted pumpkins, onions, garlic and cashew powder. The ingredients are really less as we want the pumpkin to shine. I have roasted the pumpkins in a cast iron skillet. You can also roast them in the oven with some olive oil. This recipe also shows you how you can make your own pumpkin puree and store it to add in cakes, breads, doughs or anything you fancy. This puree is ready to eat before we add it to our pasta sauce.
Making the pumpkin sauce or puree is the most effort you will have to make in this recipe. Because the rest of the steps come together really quick. Make sure you cook your spaghetti right before you start preparing the final recipe. Make the pumpkin puree before you start cooking the spaghetti.
Tips For This Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Pasta
Here are a few tips you should follow to make sure you make that perfect plate of vegan spaghetti for yourself.
Cook spaghetti as per package instructions till al dente
For this recipe, we cook the spaghetti first and once it’s almost done. First tip is to make sure you buy good quality spaghetti. I personally love Borges that we get in India (not sponsored) because it really holds its shape and also tastes smooth. Del Monte and Disano also has some good range of spaghetti that you can try (not sponsored).
The idea is to cook the spaghetti till its al dente, or has that perfect bite. Each brand of pasta has its own cooking instructions, so make sure you follow them when you cook the spaghetti, and you will be good to go.
Add salt to pasta water
This little hack will elevate the level of your pasta from average to excellent! There is no bigger heartbreak than biting into pasta that has all the flavours in the sauce, but really a bland bite in those spaghetti strands. Sounds like a nightmare to me! It’s important to add a lot of salt to the water in which you boil the pasta because you do not want your spaghetti to be bland.
In order for the spaghetti strands to absorb the flavour of the salt, it needs to cook in water that is almost as saline as sea water. This is because it does not absorb all of it, but just enough to flavour the spaghetti throughout. Adding salt in the water you boil the spaghetti in is the only time you will flavour the spaghetti so this step cannot be missed.
Pasta water makes all the difference
Have you ever wondered how restaurants get that perfect glaze over every strand of spaghetti that you order? While olive oil and butter play a major role, chefs also add a magic potion in the end while tossing the pasta. It’s the reserved pasta water. And because this pasta is vegan and lacks butter, the reserved pasta water is even more crucial.
Reserved pasta water is nothing but the water in which you boil your pasta. This pasta water absorbs a lot of starch from the dry pasta and the addition of salt in it also helps flavour the final pasta sauce. So make sure you save two to three ladles of that starchy, saline and boiling pasta water to add that extra dose of magic to your dish.
Source the best quality ingredients
This vegan pasta will taste as good as a non-vegan one only if you use the best ingredients. First up, the pumpkin that you use must be ripe and sweet. This is the season for the best pumpkins in the market which makes fall the best time to make this creamy vegan pasta. Go for a disco pumpkin which is uniformly orange throughout, and mildly sweet. Try to buy a whole and uncut pumpkin so that it’s fresh when you cut through it. Sourcing the best pumpkin will elevate the taste of this vegan pasta. A bad pumpkin will ruin it.
Apart from the pumpkin, make sure you use really good quality extra virgin olive oil in this recipe. The quality of olive oil can also make or break this creamy vegan pasta.
Keep flame at medium to low for the sauce
The sauce for this creamy vegan pumpkin pasta pasta is basic and uses just a few ingredients. To get the most out of the sauce, it’s important to cook it at optimal temperatures. The flame should be kept at low before you add the pumpkin puree. The first step of the sauce is infusing the flavour of garlic into the olive oil. For this, the flame needs to be low and the garlic needs to sizzle at low temperature for 5 to 6 minutes to release its oils into the olive oil. This is a gradual process. The sauce is cooked till it turns a little brown and toasty, without any hint of burn.
Preparation time – 30 minutes
Cook time – 30 minutes
Serves – 5
For roasting the pumpkin
- 500 g disco pumpkin, skin removed and cut into 3cm cubes
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the pasta
- 250 g dried spaghetti
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- A handful of fresh Italian basil leaves, chopped
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (adjust as per taste)
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper powder
- 3-4 tbsp reserved salty pasta water
- 3 tbsp cashew powder
- 1 cup hot water
- Remove the skin of a fresh seasonal pumpkin. Use the best kind which is sweet and bright orange in colour.
- Cut the pumpkin into 3 cm cubes.
- Heat oil in a skillet (preferably cast iron). Add the pumpkin cubes and roast them till they are brown from both sides and also 80% cooked. This process will easily take at least ten minutes per batch. Do not cover the skillet as it will make the sides of the pumpkin mushy. We need that roasted skin to add more flavour to the puree. You can also roast the pumpkins in an oven.
- Once the pumpkins are evenly roasted and soft (not too soft), set them aside and allow them to cool.
- Blend the pumpkins with some water till you get a smooth and creamy puree. Set it aside.
- Fill a wide pot with water. Let it come to a boil. Add enough salt to it so that it tastes like how you would want your soup to taste. Add the spaghetti and cook as per package instructions.
- Save two to three ladles of the pasta water.
- Once the pasta is almost done, cook the sauce simultaneously.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet. Keep the flame at low. Before it heats up, add the finely chopped garlic. Give it a light mix, allowing the garlic to sweat. The oil should get infused with the aroma and flavours of the garlic. Let it stay like that for two to three minutes. Keep the flame at low.
- Add the chopped onions and mix for three to four minutes till they brown and become translucent.
- Time to add the pumpkin puree along with some water. Cook the puree for another 3-4 minutes.
- Season with salt, black pepper powder and chilli flakes. Mix well.
- Once the pumpkin puree is cooked with the rest of the ingredients, add fresh basil and cashew powder. Cashew powder is nothing but cashews pulsed to a powder. You can do this in a mixer.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Add a ladle of the reserved pasta water (or as required). Keep the flame at low.
- Give the pasta a good toss. Garnish with fresh more Italian basil leaves.
- Serve on a plate. Garnish with some cashew powder (optional). Serve immediately.
I hope you try this creamy vegan pumpkin pasta. If you have any doubts, comments, or feedback, please reach out to me in comments or my social media handles.
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