26 Oct 2010 Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta

A few weeks ago my friend Nancy and I went to a free cooking class at Williams-Sonoma.  We like free. Part of the free class was a sales pitch, which we had to sit through before the the free food was served.  We were shown $300 pans we couldn’t cook without, $500 blenders to blend and boil soup (I am not kidding), and a $12 bottle of Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce that would change our lives.  We like free; a $12 bottle of pasta sauce was out of the question…, but that boiling blender was sooooo tempting. I still dream about it. But I digress… After downing the free samples (and not being that impressed), I went home to Google Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce Recipes.  Five popped up. I compared them. Combined them.  Made them. I fed the first batch to my grandson. He loved it (and he doesn’t love everything).  My daughters had the leftovers and they said the words that make me swoon, “This is really good, Mom”.  I love those girls. Feeling I was on the right track, I upped the spices a bit, and made another batch for my Dining For Women group. They liked it too! YAY! They asked me to post the recipe. I love those women.  I hope you bought an extra can of Pumpkin Puree. You are going to want to use one to make this recipe at least once this season.  It’s tasty, it’s different, it’s nutritious and it’s just the thing to be eating this time of year and, drum roll please, it’s FREE!

My only caution about this recipe: don’t make it ahead of time.  Make it, and then serve it immediately. Right after combining the sauce with the pasta, it’s all nice and creamy, but it doesn’t take long for the two parts to congeal into a big blob.  Other people didn’t seem to mind, but I did. Perhaps I need to add more liquid to keep it creamy longer?

I wanted to serve the sauce with cheese tortellini or cheese ravioli tonight, but I forgot to buy some, so I had to make do with what I had in the cupboard, Rotelle. I’ve also made this with with Penne and Bowties, too, and both were good. But I really wanted to try it on cheese ravioli 🙁  If you try it on ravioli, let me know how it is, please!

I serve this as a side dish.  Recipe will serve 6-8.  This sauce goes together quickly.  Not as quickly as opening a $12 jar of sauce, but almost!

Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped shallot (about ¼ cup)
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 box pasta (penne, rotelle, bowtie)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. ground sage
½ tsp. nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Fill a pasta pot with water, bring to boil, add salt.

While the pasta water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a skillet and stir in onions and shallots.  Saute until translucent.  Stir in minced garlic and saute for another minute or so.

By this time, your water should be boiling.  Stir in pasta, and cook according to package directions.

Add pumpkin, broth, cream, vinegar and spices to the onion/shallots/garlic mixture in the skillet.  Simmer on low for 5 minutes or so.

Gradually stir in 1/3 of the cheese to the sauce.  When that cheese has been incorporated, repeat with another 1/3 of the cheese.  Then repeat again with remaining cheese. Stir in chopped fresh sage.

By this time, your pasta should be cooked.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Stir the drained pasta into the sauce.  If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Serve immediately. Enjoy!  Happy Fall!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Raise your hand if you are a pumpkin junkie! (I am, I am!!)

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12 Responses
  1. Ashley says:

    I am definitely going to try this very soon. I love pumpkin recipes in the fall and this one sounds delicious.

  2. monique says:

    This sounds great and pumpkin is full of so many nutrients! I have put cheese ravioli in butternut squash soup and it tasted fantastic!

  3. Lisa says:

    Your pumkin sauce is very good, my family likes it better than the $12.95 one in the jar.
    P. S. it is also good to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to , just to warm the soul!

    • Polly says:

      YAY! I love feedback like this. So nice to know we can beat $12.95 jarred sauce…and have no preservatives, no thickeners, gums, artificial colors, etc. I like the idea of the pinch of red pepper flakes. I think that would finish off this dish perfectly! THANKS. BTW…I am going to post another pasta dish winner this week. Spinach-Artichoke Pasta with Mozzarella and Chicken. Yum! Check back in a few days for the recipe.

  4. […] so easy I don’t know why I never tried this sooner. I was also pleased with this recipe for pumpkin parmesan pasta, but I chickened out and didn’t add the balsamic vinegar it called […]

  5. Shenanigansa says:

    You are a genius lady! I live in the UK where we don’t have Williams Sonoma but I have a copy of their slow cooked vegetable and pumpkin lasagna from my mom which I really want to make. Their Pumpkin Parmesan sauce is a crucial ingredient and now I can make it, yippee. 🙂

  6. Jen says:

    Great recipe. I added some saffron to mine to give it a bit of a smokey flavor as well. And it went beautifully with my four cheese ravioli. My guests said the only thing wrong with it was that I didnt make enough for them to bathe in. Ha!

  7. Amy says:


    How did your pumpkin lasagna turn out?

  8. Rhea Davis says:

    I tried your recipe and used heavy cream instead of half and half. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of nutmeg. I found the heavy cream made the sauce quite thick,but iit stayed together well, and used a bit more broth. It was delicious.

  9. Razzy says:

    I’m so pleased to have found this site and this recipe. I was at Williams-Sonoma yesterday (October 4, 2014) and the recipe demonstrated in the technique class was Pumpkin Lasagna with Fontina (recipe on the W-S website). It too called for a jar of the W-S Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta Sauce. However that jar of sauce that was $12 in 2010 is now $16.95! While I loved the lasagna with its bubbling fontina cheese on top, I thought, “Surely I can find a recipe for a similar pumpkin parmesan pasta sauce that will cost far less than $17 to make, taste as good if not better, and will not have all those preservatives and “extra” ingredients typically in processed foods. Alas I found your site, Polly and am eager to try your sauce recipe in making the W-S lasagna recipe.

    One reviewer of the recipe on the W-S site added chicken apple sausage which might be a nice addition to the lasagna.

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