I know it sounds weird. Pumpkin, blue cheese, cranberries, and walnuts...over pasta...but it works oh so well. It's similar to my butternut squash mac & cheese, but with a new festive winter twist.
The other night I was caught up in a Christmas card-writing frenzy, sipping on my red wine (it's the holidays, mid-week wine nights are totally acceptable) and watching the totally cheesy Hitched for the Holidays (my seriously guilty new obsession), and wanted a hearty, satisfying meal that tasted of the holidays and didn't take 2 hours to prepare.
Into a pan went sauteed onions, pureed pumpkin, a pinch of this & that, and then a whole mess of blue cheese.
The flavor of the pasta base was good, but it needed a little more zip. Something tangy, and something that would add texture. Ta-da - dried cranberries added sweetness and chewiness, and toasted walnuts added crunch and toastiness.
Great little holiday midweek meal to eat by the fireplace or while watching ABC Family Christmas movies. Ok, Hallmark channel Christmas movies. When did I turn 75 and start watching Hallmark channel?! I want to stop, but I just can't.
If you are of the carnivorous world, I'm sure crumbled bacon would be a great addition here too.
Pumpkin & Blue Cheese Pasta with Walnuts and Cranberries
4 oz. dry whole wheat macaroni or other pasta
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. dried cranberries
3 oz. crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbsp. toasted walnuts
Cook pasta according to package directions; reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan and toss in onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until soft and fragrant. Add pumpkin, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and crushed red pepper. Stir until well combined, then reduce heat to low, add the reserved pasta water and about 2 oz. of the blue cheese, and let simmer for 3-5 minutes until cheese is completely melted.
Toss cooked pasta with pumpkin mixture, and add cranberries; stir well to combine. Divide pasta between two bowls, and top with remaining blue cheese and toasted walnuts.