The North End, Boston’s “Little Italy” is famous for its Italian food and feasts. It is Boston’s oldest neighborhood, a one-square-mile waterfront community not far from the popular Faneuil Hall. Hanover Street is the North End’s “Main Street” and also home to one of my favorite Italian restaurants, Bricco. At 241 Hanover Street sits a sophisticated sport for modern takes on Italian fare, wines and cocktails, as well as late-night brick-oven pizza. This dish is inspired by one of my favorites at the restaurant, with a twist. Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce and Toasted Hazelnuts is a rich, earthy dish featuring canned pumpkin puree, but cooked similar to stovetop mac and cheese. It’s simple enough to make for a weeknight meal, as well as elegant enough for a weekend dinner party. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
I really can’t believe it is November. Doesn’t it seem like just the other day we were getting ready for Halloween? I know November can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but lets just say this… November is foodie heaven. It’s the time to test all of those recipes you’ll be using for the holidays and it also means that we have entered the season of the year when it’s more than okay to embrace mashups of flavors, textures, and colors in recipes like this pasta. It’s pumpkin season, and I’m embracing it full heartedly.
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion red onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
- One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup snipped chives
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 7 minutes, until golden. Let cool. Rub off most of the skins and roughly chop.
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic and sage and cook over moderately low heat until the onion is softened, about 7 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the pumpkin puree and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Wipe out the pasta pot. Scrape the pumpkin puree into the pot and cook over moderately low heat until hot. Mix in the mascarpone and the 1/4 cup of grated cheese. Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water and toss to coat thoroughly and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to bowls, sprinkle the hazelnuts and chives on top and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano at the table.