Pumpkin Pesto Pasta

This creamy pumpkin pasta incorporates delicious roasted pumpkin, roasted garlic, pumpkin seed pesto, and Italian sausage for a delicious fall comfort food that’s sure to impress. I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin desserts, but I do love a good savory pumpkin dish. Whip this one of a kind dinner up for your Friendsgiving get together, or just because!

About This Pumpkin Pesto Pasta

I recently worked with Braun Household on a campaign over on my Instagram page promoting one of their kitchen appliances, and this was the recipe I came up with! This blog post is not sponsored, but I did want to share the recipe here. If you’re interested in seeing how I used their hand blender to whip up this delicious pumpkin pesto pasta, check out my reel!

I wanted to make a yummy fall recipe that I hadn’t had before, and that wasn’t pumpkin spice (in the typical sense). Thus, this pumpkin pesto pasta recipe was born! Pumpkin is actually a very mild flavor, and is easily adaptable to whatever kind of dish you want to make. One of my housemates tried it without knowing it had pumpkin, and wouldn’t have known if I didn’t say what it was!

Ingredients for Pumpkin Pesto Pasta

To make this pumpkin pesto pasta, there are a few things you’ll need:

  • a pie pumpkin
  • a head of garlic
  • heavy cream
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh basil
  • roasted pepitas
  • grated parmesan
  • juice of a lemon
  • white onion 
  • Italian sausage
  • rigatoni pasta
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt
  • pepper

How to Make Pumpkin Pesto Pasta

This recipe comes together easily with just a few steps! Let’s make it together.

Step 1. Mise En Place!

The first thing we’re going to do is gather all of our ingredients and equipment for this recipe. You’ll want to measure out all of the ingredients for each part of the recipe separately. Measuring everything out ahead of time ensures a smoother prep/cooking process. You will definitely want to use a food processor for this one. Don’t forget to preheat your oven to 400°F 🙂

Step 2. Prepare and Roast the Pumpkin

  1. Cut your pie pumpkin in half, and scoop out all of the stringy pumpkin guts and seeds.
  2. Chop the pumpkin into pieces and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Cut off the top of the head of garlic, so all the cloves are exposed, and add to the baking sheet with the pumpkin pieces.
  4. Drizzle the pumpkin and garlic with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt.
  5. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, then let cool.

Step 3. Make the Pumpkin Seed Pesto

While the pumpkin is roasting, you can make your pesto! Add the basil, parmesan, pepitas, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes to a food processor and pulse until it reaches your desired consistency.
 
***I used 2 cloves of roasted garlic that I had leftover from another recipe, but you can either wait for your head of garlic to be roasted and use some of that or use raw garlic cloves – I realize not everyone will have roasted garlic on hand, but it does add a layer of flavor***

Step 4. Make the Pumpkin Cream Sauce & Assembly

  1. Puree the white onion and add to a pan with the Italian sausage, and cook until sausage is browned.

  2. Pour in the pumpkin sauce mixture and heat on low for a few minutes, stirring often. The sauce will begin to thin a bit from the heat.
  3. Add in half of the pumpkin seed pesto, and the cooked rigatoni pasta, and stir to combine.

  4. Plate up and garnish as desired with dollops of pumpkin seed pesto, parmesan cheese, roasted pepitas, red pepper flakes, and/or fresh basil, and enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Pesto Pasta FAQ

There are a few questions I wanted to answer ahead of time for this pumpkin pesto pasta recipe:

Why do you use pepitas?

Pepitas are a kind of pumpkin seed, but not the kind you’ll find in a pie pumpkin. They come from oilseed or Styrian pumpkins, and don’t have to be shelled. I used pepitas for this recipe since they are readily available at my local grocery store, and didn’t require additional effort to shell.

Can I use pumpkin seeds from my pie pumpkin for the pesto?

For the pumpkin seed pesto, you CAN use the pumpkin seeds from your pie pumpkin – however you will want to roast them first. 

Can I use something other than Italian sausage?

Not an Italian sausage fan? While Italian sausage adds a lot of flavor to this recipe, you can substitute it for any other ground meat of your choosing. You could even use a vegetarian substitute if you prefer!

Storing Leftover Pumpkin Pesto Pasta

Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat leftover pumpkin pesto pasta, place in a microwave safe bowl and cover with a paper towel. Microwave for 60 seconds, stir, then heat for another 30-60 seconds depending on how hot you’d like your food to be.

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Pumpkin Pesto Pasta

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr

Ingredients
  

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

  • 3 tbsp Roasted Pepitas plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 2 cups Fresh Basil
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 cloves Roasted Garlic

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

  • 1 Pie Pumpkin
  • 1 Head of Garlic
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pound Rigatoni Pasta cooked according to package instructions
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Cut your pie pumpkin in half, and remove all of the seeds and pumpkin guts.
  • Chop the pumpkin into pieces and place on a baking sheet.
  • Cut off the top of the head of garlic so all cloves are exposed, and place on the baking sheet with the pumpkin pieces.
  • Drizzle with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Let the pumpkin cool, then remove the rind from the roasted pumpkin.
  • Add the roasted pumpkin to a food processor along with the roasted garlic (you can squeeze it right out of the skin).
  • Pour in 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of water, and blend until smooth.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

  • While the pumpkin is roasting, you can make your pesto! Add the basil, parmesan, pepitas, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, roasted garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes to a food processor and pulse until it reaches your desired consistency. ***I used 2 cloves of roasted garlic that I had leftover from another recipe, but you can either wait for your head of garlic to be roasted and use some of that or use raw garlic cloves - I realize not everyone will have roasted garlic on hand!***

Assembly

  • Puree the white onion and add to a pan with the Italian sausage, and cook until sausage is browned.
  • Pour in the pumpkin sauce mixture and heat on low for a few minutes, stirring often. The sauce will begin to thin a bit from the heat.
  • Add in half of the pumpkin seed pesto, and the cooked rigatoni pasta, and stir to combine.
  • Plate up and garnish as desired with dollops of pumpkin seed pesto, parmesan cheese, roasted pepitas, red pepper flakes, and/or fresh basil, and enjoy!

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