Gourd-on Bleu

Hallowe’en has always been a time for dressing up, scaring off the ghoulies and filling up the gap between summer and Christmas. These days though kids go ‘Trick or Treating’ instead of guising and carve pumpkins instead of turnip. Without the prospect or Thanksgiving pumpkin pie to use up the pumpkin afterwards we got to thinking about other things to do with it in the kitchen. We’re also not the kind of folks to pass up any way of including biscuits in our day-to-day diet and the result is this complex tasting yet rustic pasta dish. You can use any type of gourd for this recipe so experiment with pumpkin or any of the weird and wonderful squash out there.

Squash and Amaretti Pappardelle
Recipe serves 4

1 medium Gourd, roughly cut into chunks
Roasted with:
2 Cloves garlic (bashed and peeled)
1 tsp Dried sage
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Chilli flakes
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

For the pasta:
5 Amaretti biscuits
1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
1 tbs Olive oil
1/4-1/2 a nut of nutmeg
2 Tomatoes, chopped
A handful of fresh sage
1 Red onion, finely sliced
6 slices Parma style ham, cut into small strips
Pecorino cheese

1 large bag Fresh Pappardelle pasta

Cut the gourd in half and remove the seeds. These can be cleaned and roasted in spice, butter and salt to make a yummy snack if you like, but sometimes life is too short to wash seeds…

Slice the flesh into wedges about 1-2 cm thick, drizzle with olive oil and mix with the rest of the roasting ingredients. Spread the wedges out on a roasting sheet and bake in a hot oven (gas 6) for around 30 minutes. When ready they should be soft when you insert a knife and hopefully they will have slightly caught around the edges. Allow to cool slightly then remove the skin and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Place the gourd into a mixing bowl, crush the Amaretti and add these too. This may sound odd but actually pumpkin and Amaretti is a very traditional italian ravioli filling, also, it really does work. Add in the oil, vinegar and tomatoes and mix well.

Start boiling the pasta. The sauce doesn’t take long to finish (3-4 minutes) so bear that in mind when timing the cooking of pasta!

In a large saucepan, fry the onion and ham and in a little oil until the fat has rendered off and the onions are soft. (Those of a vegetarian persuasion just leave out the ham). Add the gourd/biscuit/tomato mix and stir through. The mix needs to be a little wet to help the sauce coat the pasta. Add anything from one spoon to a ladle of pasta water to help loosen it up, depending how wet your gourds are. Once the sauce is piping hot, drain the pasta and add to the pan with chopped fresh sage and a good handful of grated pecorino. Stir well.

Serve with some crunchy bread, a glass of rich red wine and a good helping of cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

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