Aaron has declared this vegan pumpkin pasta recipe one of his favorite meals ever. That’s some high praise considering I’ve been feeding him my latest recipe creations every week for the last six years! I had a feeling this carb-y dish would be a winner with its extra rich and creamy pumpkin sauce, but I think the thick pappardelle noodles are what helped to seal the deal. I splurged on “fancy” handmade pasta at the grocery store (I usually buy regular penne) and while I’ve always been a capellini girl, I may have crossed over to Team Pappardelle. They are just so perfectly chewy!
There are definite mac n’ cheese vibes happening with the pasta, which isn’t surprising considering it was inspired by my butternut squash mac n’ cheese from a few years back. I have to say, though—I like this pumpkin pasta better! It’s only 9 basic ingredients, with the star being a cute little roasted sugar pie pumpkin. I haven’t tried using canned pumpkin here, but other types of squash like butternut or kabocha will likely work equally well.
In addition to the fresh pumpkin, the sauce is also made from roasted garlic and onion, soaked cashews, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, white miso, and a little extra virgin olive oil. You can go light on the oil because the cashews and pumpkin naturally get super smooth and creamy when you blend them. And because I know some people will ask: don’t skip the white miso! I find that the combination of nutritional yeast and white miso is the key to getting that crave-worthy cheesy flavor with some umami-rich depth.
- 1 small sugar pie pumpkin
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced thick
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
- ⅔ cup vegetable broth
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons raw cashews, soaked 2 hours or overnight, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- sea salt and pepper
- 16 ounces uncooked pasta
- for serving: freshly chopped sage or parsley, red pepper flakes, roasted pumpkin seeds
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the seeds and stem. Place the pumpkin, onion, and garlic on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn the pumpkin cut-side down and use a fork to pierce a handful of holes in the skin. Cover the baking sheet with tin foil and bake until the pumpkin is very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.
- Add the vegetable broth to a blender. Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out 1⅓ cups pumpkin flesh and add it to the blender along with the onion, garlic, cashews, olive oil, nutritional yeast, white miso, and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Once al dente, turn off the heat and reserve ⅓ cup pasta water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the reserved water to the blender with the sauce and blend until incorporated. Pour the sauce over the pasta, then toss gently to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, and roasted pumpkin seeds.
If you don't plan to enjoy all of the pasta in one sitting, I recommend storing the pasta and sauce in separate containers and mixing just prior to serving. This will yield the creamiest texture.
Leftover pasta and sauce can be kept in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.
To make this recipe gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta.