Creamy Pumpkin Baked Pasta (Gluten Optional)

Kitteh Via Ffffound

 

Some evenings, all you want is a big, fat comfort dinner.

A giant bowl of pasta sprinkled with cheese was my go-to for years when I was in the doldrums of lazy vegetarianism. I used to think that eating vegan would mean the end of all things creamy and satisfying passing my lips – so naive! – now I know that vegans actually make some of the most kick-ass, delicious creamy-genre food around. All of the awesomeness with none of the nasty stuff.

Everyone wins, especially your belly.

Our kitchen is overflowing with pumpkin and I bought some coconut flour recently that I wanted to trial in a savoury dish (it smells divine; oh my god) so couple of nights ago, after a superbusy day, I decided that a comfort-factor-five pasta sauce experiment was in order.

The finished product is a creamy, coconut-kissed, sweet pumpkin success that makes for an amazing pasta bake. The zucchini and cherry tomatoes pull everything together and give a little extra pow. It’s like a pasta hug for weary bones. This would be great with rice in place of the pasta too!

 

Creamy Pumpkin Baked Pasta

Ingredients:

3 gloves garlic, crushed
1 brown onion, chopped finely
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup rice milk
2 tbsp coconut flour *
1 tsp arrowroot
1/2 tsp allspice
4 cups pumpkin, cut into small bite-size pieces
1 large courgette, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 1/4 cups of your favourite spiral pasta (gluten-free if you swing that way)
sea salt & fresh black pepper to taste

For the top:
2-3 tbsp ground flaxseed
handful of pumpkin seeds
handful of sunflower seeds
handful of chopped raw cashews

 

What to do:

Preheat oven to 180 C.

In a small bowl, combine ground flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and chopped cashews. Set aside.

Cook pasta your preferred way. Drain and return to saucepan, then cover and set aside until needed.

Cook pumpkin pieces in a large saucepan of boiling water, for 5-10 minutes, until easily pierced with a knife. Be careful not to overcook – they’re not all getting blended! When done, drain and set aside. Add half of the pumpkin to the pasta.

Heat a little olive oil in a small frying pan, and cook zucchini over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until it begins to soften. Add that to the pasta too.

Make the sauce:

Heat olive oil briefly in a medium-hot saucepan; add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add onion and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften. Add coconut flour 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking to combine. Return to heat and add the rice milk slowly in several batches, whisking constantly, until well mixed.

Add allspice and arrowroot, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until sauce begins to thicken (the coconut flour will make the texture a little grainy, but your blender will take care of that, so don’t worry ’bout it). Season to taste with sea salt and fresh black pepper.

When sauce is ready, remove from heat and set aside for 5-10 minutes to cool a little. Add sauce and half of the cooked pumpkin to a blender, and blend until very smooth.

Add the pumpkin sauce and cherry tomatoes to the pasta mixture and stir gently until well combined.

Spoon into a small lightly oiled baking dish. Top with flaxseed mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.

Serves 2-4.

 

* If you don’t have coconut flour, substitute it for all-purpose (or your favourite gluten-free flour for sauces), omit the arrowroot, and reduce the amount of rice milk by 2-3 tablespoons, topping it up with 2-3 tablespoons of coconut cream instead to make sure the hint of coconut somethin’ somethin’ is still in the mix. Easy.

 

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