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Fettuccini with roast pumpkin, pancetta and peas

I’ve been making pasta for a little while now.  For my Birthday last year I was given some gift vouchers to kitchenware stores from many friends (sincere thanks to you all).  Late last year I finally decided that I really wanted the pasta attachments to add to my Kitchen Aid mixer.  Up until that point I had been using a hand turned machine that I had borrowed from a friend.  It was never attached to my bench because the clamp wasn’t wide enough and the table used to move too much when I clamped it on there so I only made it occasionally, now I like to make it a little more often.

So for my Birthday this year (which was yesterday 🙂 ) I decided I would make us one of our favourite pasta dishes.  I know what you are thinking, cooking on your Birthday, are you crazy?!  G asked me the same question and suggested that we go out somewhere nice or order in take away at least but we are going away soon so I suggested that we save our money and have a nice meal while we are away.  Besides, being a self confessed cooking addict there are not many times that I don’t feel like cooking.  I started with the sauce because it is the kind of thing that you can get all the preparation done then just pull it all together at the end and then I moved onto the pasta. 

I digress slightly to put the next part of my story into perspective.  When I started my blog I committed to being completely honest about my cooking journey and to share the good along with the bad and the ugly therefore giving you the whole experience.

Back to the pasta.  I like to make my pasta with enough time to allow it to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes, I find this make silky dough that cooks well and tastes delicious.  So I started making my normal mix of 200g of Tipo 00 flour with 2 large eggs.  I allow the kitchen add dough hook to do most of the work for me then bring it together at the end with my hands so that I can feel the texture.  My first attempt (yes, there was a second), which has never failed before, was quite stiff and crumbly but I thought resting it would allow it to relax and that it would come together when I rolled it through the machine.  So after 30 minutes I removed it from the refrigerator and began rolling.  It felt completely wrong.  It was much firmer than normal and tore every time I ran it through the pasta rollers.  It started to come together slightly and I thought all would be fine but my gut feeling was telling me to make it again.  By this stage it was 7pm, so I was more than a little reluctant to do so.  I played with the dough again and knew that my feeling was indeed correct.  I couldn’t believe that of all the days for something not to work it had to be on my Birthday!  So more flour, eggs and time later a second batch was produced.  I am pleased to say it was silky smooth and rolled out perfectly, albeit an hour later than expected but an extra glass of wine helped to fill the void.

I guess the things that I would like you to take from my story are that when cooking, no matter how many times you have done something before things can still go wrong even if you follow the process exactly, and, always follow your gut feeling, in cooking and in life.  In my case I think that the eggs were just a little smaller than normal and therefore not enough liquid was added to the flour.  Adding more later would have made the mixture too sticky I think and in my case starting again proved to be the best decision.

The pasta turned out wonderfully, the sauce worked a treat and we sat down with a lovely Sav Blanc and devoured it all. 

I hope you take this recipe and make it your own.  You don’t have to make your own pasta but I encourage you to use fresh rather than dried.  Some supermarkets stock it now and often delis and continental stores make their own.  For those people in Perth, the Re Store has some good fresh pasta.  Let me a comment if you know of other places to buy it.  I will give you some ideas in the tips section regarding ingredient options, so read on.  Enjoy!

fettuccini with roast pumpkin, pancetta and peas – (recipe by Fiona at Food 4 Thought)
serves 2

650g butternut pumpkin, peeled
1/2 tsp coriander seeds – optional *
1/2 tsp fennel seeds – optional *

1 tsp sea salt
pinch of dried chilli flakes – optional *
1/4 tsp cinnamon – optional *
2 Tbls olive oil
200g onion
150g smoked flat pancetta
2 gloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup dry white wine
250g frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup thick cream
torn basil leaves and parmesan cheese, to serve

Preheat oven to 190°C.  Cut the pumpkin into 2cm dice, toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread out on a lined baking tray.  Place coriander seeds, fennel chilli and salt into a mortar and pestle and pound until it becomes a fine powder.  Add the cinnamon and mix to combine.  Sprinkle over the pumpkin and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden brown and softened.  *If you do not want to use the spices just add the salt and bake.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and once boiling add a small handful of salt, then bring back to the boil.

Meanwhile, add remaining olive oil to heavy based deep frying pan, dice the onion into 1/2cm pieces and add to the pan.  Sweat onion over medium heat with the lid on the pan, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until softened and golden.  Remove from pan and set aside, repeat the same method with the pancetta.  It should become crisp but you may need to remove the lid to achieve this.  Remove from the pan and add to onion.  Pour off most of the oil, add crushed garlic and cook for a minute, then pour in white wine and allow to boil for a couple of minutes.  

Add pasta to pot of boiling salted water and cook for the desired time. 

To finish the sauce, add onion pancetta, roasted pumpkin and peas to the pan.  Stir gently and cook for 4 – 5 minutes until peas are cooked.  Add cream and stir gently to combine all ingredients.  Check for seasoning and adjust as you wish.

Remove pasta from pot and add to the sauce.  Fold pasta and sauce together.  Add a couple of spoons of pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary.

Sprinkle with torn basil and grated parmesan cheese and serve.

My tips/alterations:  *If you don’t want to use the spices you can simply season the pumpkin with salt and pepper before roasting.  *Substitute the smoked pancetta with plain pancetta, streaky bacon or normal bacon.  *If you’d like to make this ahead of time you can roast the pumpkin and cook both the onion and pancetta and set them aside.  That way you can just assemble the sauce towards the end of the pasta cooking time.  *Adding a small amount of the pasta water helps the sauce to coat the pasta thoroughly.

ease: 7.5/10.  The sauce is fairly simple, making your own pasta is also not difficult if you have a machine.
prep time: 15mins. plus time to roll your pasta if you make your own.
cooking time: 30mins.
total: 45mins.          

taste: 8.5/10.  This dish has a good balance of flavours with the saltiness of the pancetta, sweetness of the pumpkin and peas and freshness from the basil.  The spices on the pumpkin and the smoke from the pancetta just add another dimension.  It is a rich, delicious comfort food that is great in the cooler months.   

would I make it again:  Many times.