Taking pumpkin beyond pie

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Working pumpkin into your diet this season will give you a tasty, low calorie dose of beta-carotene, potassium and fiber. Roasting the pumpkin in this Spiral Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin and Plum Tomatoes gives it a deep earthy flavor. (Larry Crowe ~ Associated Press)

Pumpkins aren't just an icon of Halloween. They also are a sign of healthy eats.

Like carrots, pumpkins are loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene, potassium and fiber. Plus, with only 49 calories per cup (cooked), this tasty squash is a great fit for a healthy diet.

Fresh pumpkins can be peeled, seeded and diced, then used just as you would other winter squashes, such as butternut and acorn. Just be sure to use sugar (sometimes called baking or pie) pumpkins. Pumpkins intended for carving won't taste good.

Sugar pumpkins can be cooked and pureed for a mashed-type side, or processed further to become the base of a velvety, low-fat soup. Pumpkin also can be roasted, which will bring out its natural sweetness and enhance its deep, earthy flavors.

This recipe for pasta with roasted pumpkin and plum tomatoes uses this technique to boost the flavors of all the vegetables. The addition of fresh or dried sage infuses the hearty dish with a familiar taste of autumn.

When selecting cooking pumpkins, look for those that still have a full, long stem attached to the top, which usually indicates the flesh will be fresh and store well without deteriorating quickly.

Spiral Pasta With Roasted Pumpkin And Plum Tomatoes

6 cups peeled and cubed sugar pumpkin or butternut squash

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive, divided

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)

4 plum tomatoes, cored and diced

1/3 cup fresh sage leaves or 1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage

12 ounces whole-grain spiral pasta

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 450 F. Position a rack in the lower third of oven.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the pumpkin with the onions and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the pumpkin in an even layer and roast until the vegetables are beginning to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and sage, then roast, stirring once, until all the vegetables are browned and tender, about 10 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the roasted vegetables and toss gently to combine.

Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired, and serve sprinkled with cheese.

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