It’s pumpkin season and time to marry those pumpkin flavors in fall Italian dishes: risottos and pasta. When it comes to pasta, nothing can surpass the luscious body feel in your mouth of tagliatelle. These “torn” lengths of pasta seem to ooze comfort with every bite. In Naples, a traditional pasta toping is chestnuts with butternut squash or pumpkin.
In an Italian fall, you will still see people flocking to the hillsides, harvesting chestnuts and mushrooms. Nut sauces are widely used in Italy, far less so here. The marriage of chestnut and pumpkin is fall at its Italian best.
This recipes is from Nonna’s House by Jody Scaravella, a book filled with authentic recipes from ten Italian grandmothers who are the chef team at Jody’s Staten Island restaurant Enoteca Maria. The restaurant is a clever and successful one. So is this lovely recipe for the sauce. To prepare the dish, cook the tagliatelle to your preference, or follow the directions below, and add this intense, earthy sauce.
Tagliatelle with Pumpkin and Chestnuts
Yield: serves 4
- 1 1- to 1 ¼-pound pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 8 ounces jarred roasted chestnuts, sliced
- Finely grated Pecorino Romano for final garnish of the pasta with sauce
To make the sauce, mix the pumpkin/squash, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the rosemary, cinnamon, salt, and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Tuck the bay leaves under the pumpkin/squash. Bake until tender and beginning to caramelize at the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Discard the bay leaves.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a deep skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Crumble in the sausage; cook, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid in the skillet has reduced to about ¼ cup. Transfer the roasted squash to the skillet, add the chestnuts, toss gently, and remove from the heat.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the tagliatelle to the boiling water. Cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain. Transfer the tagliatelle to the skillet with the sauce and toss gently. Divide among serving bowls and garnish with Pecorino Romano.