Dark Days 2011: Pumpkin Cream Pasta
This year is the first I’ve ever not been a student come Autumn “fall back” which means it’s the first year I haven’t had the luxury of mornings or afternoons or whatever stretches of daylight to nab for food photography. I used to think it was hard back then…little did I know. Hello, is everyone else in this hemisphere really ok with it being dark when you get home from work? What is this madness?! Needless to say, it’s made for some interesting mornings, trying to reheat food to mesh the way it’s supposed to, then frantically snap a few shots before I head off to work.
In the same vein, it’s winter, a season of few local foods–or plenty? Last year I worked at a local foods grocery/restaurant, so it wasn’t that tough–plenty of squashes and eggs and cheese and meats from local farmers–but this year I’m out there wandering around stores along with every other shopper wondering where I can get anything local. (I guess I could go back to my old store…but, well, my leaving wasn’t incredibly amicable.) But, with the 5th annual Dark Days Challenge, I’m looking forward to rolling my sleeves up, donning my apron (if I ever find it in the boxes, that is), and whipping up some delicious local, vegan food! Yup, I’m upping it a notch–vegan Dark Days. I see lots of butternut squash and cabbage in my future…
For the first challenge, I looted through the post-Thanksgiving fridge (Thanksgiving wrap-up post coming next) for anything I had on hand. What I found: local pumpkin, roasted and pureed last year, then frozen, then thawed for pumpkin pie (but, of course, I thawed too much) and a bag of local kale (from which farm, I can’t remember). So while this dish might not be 100% local, the two highlighted ingredients are, and for someone who wasn’t able to do much farmers market shopping this week, I’m pretty stoked with it.
The pumpkin sauce was a random mix of pantry items that sounded good: pumpkin, coconut milk, garlic powder, sage, salt, and pepper. The rest is, again, another pantry mix (so feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand). I sauteed the kale and chickpeas, threw them on top of bow tie pasta, and, voila, a delicious, nutritious, and largely local meal!
Even if you aren’t participating in the Dark Days Challenge, is anyone else trying to incorporate more local ingredients into your cooking this winter? What are your strategies, favorite tips?
Pumpkin Cream Pasta with Kale & Chickpeas
1 c pumpkin puree
1 c coconut milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sage
a pinch of black pepper
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 15 oz can chickpeas
1 lb cooked pasta of choice
To make the sauce, combine the first 6 ingredients in a sauce pan. Warm over medium-low heat and mix well. Adjust spices to taste. Let simmer while cooking the pasta and kale (but don’t bring to a boil or you’ll scorch it).
Saute the kale in olive oil over medium heat, approximately 4-5 minutes. Allow to wilt. Add the chickpeas, cook 1 more minute, set aside.
Combine the pasta, sauce, and kale mixture. Garnish with vegan Parmesan if you’ve got it on hand.