Creamy Pumpkin Pasta & Spring Vegetables + Our first giveaway!

Last night my friend asked me what my favorite thing was in my fridge at that time. I couldn’t come up with a good response until today. Leftovers. Leftovers are glorious. My usual strategy is to cook two big meals on the weekend: turkey & vegetable soup, maybe a Thai, Nepalese or Indian curry, or roast chicken, and enjoy quality meals with limited prep time throughout a busy week. The work is already done, and I’m eating food so good it makes me close my eyes and do a happy chair wiggle. You know what I mean.

But there are many people in my family who liken leftovers to dog food. I can understand that. Who wants to microwave something and end up with dry meat or fish, crunchy rice, or my ultimate nightmare -soggy vegetables? First off, I don’t use a microwave. I don’t like what it does to my food texturally and I think using a microwave is just plain bad for you. I gently reheat meat or fish in a saucepan over medium low or low heat. Same goes for curries or soups – into a pot and not nuked. I don’t eat a lot of rice, but if there are leftovers you can make yaki-onigiri (grilled rice cakes) or add it to soup. Anything braised, made into a chili, or prepared via slow cooker actually tastes better as leftovers.

The main reason I love leftovers, however, is because they have the potential to be not the pallid version of yesterday but the start, no halfway finish, to a new meal. Leftovers are great because most of the work is already done for you. Meat and veggies can go in omelets or tacos. Bits and pieces left on a roasted chicken can go in for soup stock along with bones and vegetable peelings.

No one illustrates this more beautifully than Tamar E. Adler in her new book, An Everlasting Meal. She makes me want to cook things I would never previously dream of enjoying, such as homemade mayonnaise or things containing anchovies. And her ideas on leftovers are a revelation. I’ve enjoyed this book so much, I’m going to give you the chance to win a copy! See details at the end of this recipe.

I don’t want to say too much for fear of breaking any sort of copyright laws, and you should just go straight to the source. Tamar Adler says it so much more beautifully and convincingly than I can. She encourages us to think of meals not in a linear way, dutifully plowing through dry or soggy leftovers in order to move on to better meals, but rather like a big circle. The best way I can illustrate this is to show you with a recipe I came up with last night after a long day out and little desire to make a big production for dinner. I still managed to feed two people, have leftovers, and start preparing some parts of my lunch today.

Breakfast: Roasted Kabocha

Wash the skin with fruit & veggie spray. Cut kabocha into quarters. Scoop out seeds and set aside to roast later for a snack. Spread 1 T coconut oil onto each pumpkin piece, and roast in a 400 degree oven until flesh is caramelized and easily pierced with a fork (or dull chopstick if you’re like me). This takes about 45 – 70 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Set one of the pieces aside for dinner.

simultaneous roasting of sweet potato optional

Dinner: Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Spring Vegetables

Makes 3 servings

4oz gluten-free noodles. I used Ancient Quinoa Harvest corn-quinoa blend.

2 tsp Herbamare salt, divided

1 large bunch of spring asparagus, no thicker than a pencil and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces

1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly on a mandolin

¼ roasted kabocha squash, flesh scooped out and mashed (I ended up with 2/3 c)

1/3 c pasta cooking water, reserved

¼ tsp thyme

In a large saucepan, bring water and 1 tsp of Herbamare to a boil. Add the gluten-free noodles once the water has reached a rolling boil. Cook according to package directions, but do not overcook. My instructions said 6-8 minutes, so I made sure only to cook for 6 minutes total. In the last two minutes of cooking time, add the asparagus and zucchini. Turn off the heat. This is why you want the vegetables to be thin so they cook quickly.

In a wide skillet, mash the kabocha with 1/3 c pasta water until it is smooth. Use tongs to transfer the pasta and vegetables into a wide skillet. Gently toss to combine, adding the thyme and remaining teaspoon of Herbamare. If the sauce looks too watery, simmer the pasta over low heat until the sauce has thickened to your liking. Of course if the sauce is too thick, add some more pasta water one tablespoon at a time.  Serve as is for a light meal or with a side of roasted chicken if you have hungrier dinner guests.

for Lunch Save the remaining pasta water. Bring to a boil and add shelled fava beans (you could also add green beans or any other veggie you want to flash boil). Cook for 3-4 minutes until the beans are tender. Strain, saving the pasta water for stock. Cool the beans overnight and add them to your usual lunch salad.

Another breakfast I plan on eating the pasta leftovers tomorrow! I’m also going to make chicken stock with the leftover pasta water and chicken bones.

Please please please buy a copy of An Everlasting Meal. It will make you love your kitchen, love your cooking mistakes, and love leftovers! If you can’t afford it – try your local library. If you want to win a copy, follow the instructions below!

Please leave a comment (and not anonymously) and share your favorite kitchen memory. Next time you are afraid to cook or don’t feel like it after a long day, remember that memory and try to recreate a good feeling rather than a perfect dish. Giveaway will be open until Sunday at midnight, Central Time in the US. I’ll announce the winner Monday.

Breakdown of Links

Turkey & Vegetable Soup from eatrecyclerepeat

Brown Rice Yaki Onigiri with Bacon & Avocado from La Fuji Mama

Stone Soup from 222 million tons

About Tamar E. Adler and her book, An Everlasting Meal

Roasted Delicata Squash Seeds from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations

Excerpt from “How to Live Well”, a chapter about cooking beans from An Everlasting Meal

Anatomy of a Salad from eatrecyclerepeat

“cooking mistakes” aka Kitchen Failures from eatrecyclerepeat

Part of Diet, Dessert & Dogs Wellness Weekend May 17 – 21.

Many thanks to Joy the Baker for introducing me to this fabulous book.

35 thoughts on “Creamy Pumpkin Pasta & Spring Vegetables + Our first giveaway!

    • Any chance you remember how that quaint little ditty went? Like I said in Mary’s comment, I think Grandma was one of the most unique cooks ever. How long were they at it? 2 hours? 3?

  1. This was absolutely delicious! Kate was kind enough to make this for dinner for me, and I haven’t had such a delicious gluten free pasta in forever, if ever! Definitely worth a try if you like pumpkin; a MUST if you love pumpkin! Thank you Kate!

  2. Remember when you melted the butternut squash to my cutting boards? “Just scrape off the plastic parts, it will be fine…” That was pretty funny.

    • Ohhh how could I forget that! I believe I have more stories of mistakes than I do recipes. In my defense, that flatbread was delicious. But that was hilarious though – which reminds me, I still owe you a cutting board…

  3. This looks good, I will have to try it. You know how much I LOVE pumpkin. I baked a batch of pumpkin muffins yesterday and thought of you!

  4. I am slowly coming around to appreciating left overs myself thanks to Mark who can make them into something magical!

  5. My favorite memory in the kitchen, is, cooking with my grandmother when I was growing up. She always had a way to make the most out of very little. I would say her potato soup is my favorite…I wish I could make it like she did.

  6. Looks very good Kate-san! YAKI-ONIGIRI!! I love it! Never made it in the US but maybe I will borrow my friend’s grill someday to make one 🙂 The picture of the asparagus reminded me of how expensive those are in Japan! My mom paied 100yen for 3 of them! See you soon in Japan! One more month 🙂

    • You should make it! I found a farm to buy some asparagus, but yes, many things are unusually expensive here. Zucchini is 150 – 200 yen for a tiny one! I have to grow my own. See you in a month is right!

  7. Grandma Mary blotting the grease of the wings at graduation and Grandma LaVerne’s drawer of flour were more observations, so I’m going to have to say the Thanksgiving I skipped school to stay home and make apple pies with Joe, and pretty much any time all four of us did the dishes.

    • First it was burning the hairs off with a lighter, then cooking, then blotting. I feel like she was one of the most unique cooks out there. What did you like about the drawer of flour? It always smelled weird to me. I remember hearing about your epic pie making. I had no idea you enjoyed the dishes so much. I’m glad someone did.

  8. That looks delicious Kate and now I know how to use my leftover gluten free noodles. And I totally agree that leftovers rule (except Kraft macaroni and cheese… it takes on a whole new artificial characteristic).

  9. Even though I rarely do it these days, I love cooking when I’m in the right mood with unlimited spare time. I enjoy making good food for the people I love. While I don’t mind cooking alone, my fondest kitchen memories are cooking with my mom and/or her mom. My grandma is gone now, but she was truly the best cook and baker. She made incredibly wild blueberry pie and fresh strawberry jam. Her pecan pie was out of this world, too. I loved just watching her and asking her questions when I was a kid. With my mom, being in the kitchen and just talking and cooking is relaxing and comforting. We don’t have to really coordinate who’s making what – it just seems natural and just happens. My brother and I love my mom’s tacos so we always make that when we’re together as a family. I also like the relatively new tradition of Thanksgiving with the Johnson’s – having Mark and Kate leading the way in the kitchen make our meal together truly special!

    • There is definitely a wonderful sense of leisure when you have all the time in the world to prepare something with no deadlines. Grandmas are pretty much always the best cooks – many of my favorite kitchen memories include Grandma Mary and Team Johnson Thanksgivings. I love that you and your mom make such a great team. And I know that you did a fantastic job at TG last year. You’ll have to pair up with Uncle Mark and my mom this year!

  10. Taking the vegetables from my grandparents garden in the backyard and the fish that my grandfather and I just caught into the kitchen where my grandma Pilarski prepared the freshest of fish frys! Only in Wisconsin!

  11. Hi Kate! My favorite kitchen memory involves baking Christmas cookies in Grandma Kully’s kitchen. She would make cut-out cookies year-round because she knew how much I loved sweets. She would let us measure ingredients for the dough, roll it out and cut out shapes, which always involved a Christmas tree or two even in the summer. The best part was when she would frost the cookies (that was too hard for impatient 6-year-olds with small hands) and let my cousin Nick and I go crazy on the sprinkles–and I mean crazy. I have distinct memories of us lining up a dozen or so cookies and furiously shaking sugar all over them, destroying any aesthetic appeal they once had.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share! It was fun thinking back to my favorite kitchen memories.

    • Thanks for commenting! I love the idea of Christmas tree cookies in the summer. Those were always my favorite shapes, and if you were in the Northwoods, why not? And I know exactly what you mean with over-sprinklage. Joe and I once stayed up late decorating some “avant-garde” Christmas cookies. Definitely not pretty, but fun to eat. I’m glad you enjoyed sharing.

  12. 1) I am completely jealous of the things you cook. My skill for cooking anything other than chicken and taters is at a zero. Thus, I eat a lot of things from boxes.
    2) My favorite kitchen memory was licking the beaters. This was the treat at the end of a rigorous hour watching my father contemplate what dessert to bake next, prepare, and then follow through on. The tension between him and the Betty Crocker cookbook would build as he leafed through the pages. I would watch him through the whole process, though, and when the time would come I’d help gather the supplies – the sugar, the salt shaker, a white rubber spatula. Once the baking troops were settled in place, I’d sit at my post across the table and study him while he did his work. After watching him combine or stew or boil or fold, I would get the opportunity to nibble whatever mixture was being unused. A shmear of brown sugar or butter stuck to an egg beater. A sliver of pie crust stuck to a spatula. I would devour the treat and watch him finish his duty. It was quite the process, but it’s comforting to think of those specific moments we spent together.

    • Thanks for commenting! I truly believe that you can cook more than you think you can. Just take baby steps, and read the new book that is coming to you in the mail! I love your kitchen memory ~ it is so vivid and fun. Time spent in the kitchen with family is some of the best time spent in our lives.

  13. Is it too late for the contest? I will share my memory anyway! My mom makes cookie cutter cookies every Christmas and I have her recipe and have made them at home a few times. They’re so tasty because the cookies aren’t sweet at all — more like bread — and the icing adds the perfect amount of sugar. It’s not just one memory, but I love tracking those cookies through the years — from where I was very little and could barely help to when I took over making them for my mom. I’ve had friends come over and decorate them with me and we always get pretty creative. There’s the yearly debate over one of the cookie cutters, too — whether it’s Santa’s face with a large nose or Santa carrying a sack of toys on his back. (I maintain that it’s the latter.) Yum! I want to go make those cookies now!

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