It is very rewarding to be able to strike an item off my culinary bucket list, and I’ve done it with this handmade pasta, speckled with the gorgeous autumn-orange color of pureed pumpkin.
Pappardelle is a long, flat pasta and is usually served with a low-and-slow, braised meat sauce, perfect for a Sunday supper. I excel in rule-breaking, though, so I topped my handmade pumpkin pappardelle with roasted shrimp, onions and mushrooms in a chili crisp sauce and served it up on a weeknight. It was scrumptious!
When I first started making pasta sometime around 2012, I stuck mostly to script, using the basic flour and egg recipe. But my imagination quickly took over and led me to try adding flavor and color to fresh pasta. My first experiment was a lovely lemon zest and pepper fettuccine, and I’ve hardly looked back since that time, infusing my dough with everything from fresh herbs to roasted garlic to pureed vegetables. And of course, I have also begun to experiment with different types of flour, and I almost always incorporate some amount of whole grain for the flavor and nutrition value it offers.
Last Spring, I was excited to order a copy of the book, Pasta, Pretty Please by Linda Miller Nicholson. Linda started her brand, Salty Seattle, after discovering that colorful pasta would get her kid to eat vegetables— you know, necessity being the mother of invention and all— and she was recently recognized on Oprah’s 2022 list of favorite things for her “crocchi,” a colorful, croissant-shaped pasta. In her recent email newsletter, Linda described life as a whirlwind, and I suppose that’s what happens when you put your whole heart and soul into doing what makes you happy!
If you enjoy making handmade pasta, I highly recommend Linda’s book for its recipes and just for the artistry of it, and you can also follow her on social media for visual instruction on some of the more intricate pasta shapes (I am mesmerized by her work). As with most “recipe” books I own, I have drawn inspiration from Pasta, Pretty Please more than I have followed any recipes. Interestingly, of all the brilliant pasta colors in her book, Linda does not seem to use pumpkin in any of them!
But Linda does offer a simple flour-to-liquid formula, and that’s what helped me achieve this bucket list victory. I followed her rule of 3/4 cup liquid to 2-1/4 cups flour, beginning with a portion of pumpkin puree plus room temperature eggs. I whizzed those together in my blender and strained out the solids through a mesh strainer. The blend measured almost exactly 3/4 cup, but there was a layer of tiny bubbles on top, so I figured (correctly) that I’d need to add some amount of water to get the dough just right. How much? It was too soon to tell.
For the flour ingredients, I went with my usual “00” white flour and durum blend, but also subbed in some rye flour because I liked it so much with the pumpkin in my recent sourdough pumpkin rye sandwich bread. After mixing the flours with a touch of onion powder and a pinch of salt, I measured out 1/4 cup to be used for adjustment and rolling the dough. I only needed it for the latter, but every kitchen is its own environment. Humidity, temperature and even the age of your flour are all variables for successful pasta.
My stand mixer did most of the work making the dough, and I used the kneading hook to mimic the action of mixing it by hand— at least, until I realized how much more water would be needed. To that point, the dough was very crumbly and unorganized but a couple tablespoons of water made it better and a couple more got it done. I recommend trying a recipe like this if you are already adept at making regular pasta because it helps to know how the dough should feel and look at every stage.
About 10 minutes of hand-kneading later, my dough was ready for a nap in the fridge, and then I proceeded with my usual rolling process to produce the pappardelle strands. Now, I will assume that if you intend to make this pasta, you already have some experience making basic fresh pasta. If you’re still getting started, check out my previous post for handmade lemon-herb pasta for more in-depth instruction and tips. Rather than describing every step again, I’ll focus here on the points that are relevant for this pumpkin pappardelle.
First, keep that reserved 1/4 cup of flour on hand in case you need it during the lamination steps and roll-out of your sheets, because the pumpkin does make the dough a bit more sticky than usual and so does the rye. Second, have some coarse-grind semolina nearby, for folding up the long sheets when you’re ready to trim the dough into wide strips. I have found that the coarse semolina does a better job of preventing sticking. Finally, if you will use a drying rack as I did, get that set up in advance. If you don’t have a drying rack, you can give the cut pappardelle an extra dusting in the coarse semolina and wind the strips into loose little “nests” for drying. Here’s a few images of how it went in my kitchen:
For the freshest outcome, I like to cook the pasta the same day I make it, but it does seem to do best when it has dried for at least an hour. Any remaining pasta can be dried further and then tucked into a zip-top freezer bag for longer term storage.
Time for dinner!
The roasted shrimp topping on my pappardelle was very easy to make, and I borrowed a page from Ina Garten’s playbook to get this done. The Barefoot Contessa’s method of roasting shrimp rather than boiling it ensures perfect doneness without having to watch it like a hawk. The onions and mushrooms needed more time, so I started with those, roasting with a drizzle of olive oil and a drizzle of the oil on top of the chili onion crunch from Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have a TJ’s near you, check your supermarket for the new Heinz version of this, or seek out a recipe for “chili crisp” online.
When my pappardelle was just right (al dente stage), I tossed it in a bowl with a generous amount of Parm-Romano blend and black pepper— a makeshift cacio e pepe treatment, if you will— and topped it with the roasted shrimp and mushrooms, plus an extra drizzle of the chili onion crunch.
This was so, so good. The pumpkin flavor was subtle but the pasta definitely had an autumn vibe. Next time, I’ll increase the pumpkin and reduce to one egg when I make my pumpkin pasta dough and I’ll turn it into a ravioli or tortellini. Tell me, dear friends, what flavors should I put in the filling when I do it? 🙂
Handmade Pumpkin Pappardelle
An infusion of real pumpkin puree and a portion of rye flour give this handmade pasta a rustic, substantial feel and flavor.
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 to 4 Tbsp. water, room temperature (use only as needed)
- 1 cup “00” or all-purpose flour (see ingredient notes for measuring tips)
- 3/4 cup fine durum (semolina) flour
- 1/2 cup whole rye flour
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder (optional)
- 2 pinches kosher salt
- Coarse-grind semolina, for dusting during roll-out of pasta
- Combine the pumpkin and eggs in a blender container and pulse a few times, followed by constant blending, until the mixture is even and smooth.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids. Add enough water to produce 3/4 cup liquid ingredients.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together all flours with the onion powder and salt, and then measure out about 1/4 cup to have on reserve. This makes for easier adjustment of the dough and can also be used during the rolling stage of the pasta dough.
- Make a well in the flour and pour the liquid mixture into it all at once. Use the kneading hook attachment to mix the flour and liquids together until most of the flour is incorporated. If the dough seems too dry or crumbly, add one tablespoon of water and mix again, repeating until the dough is soft and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes, or until it has a smooth, even surface without stickiness.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to fully hydrate the dough and to relax the gluten structure a bit.
- Remove dough from fridge about 30 minutes before rolling, and then roll as usual by hand or with a pasta machine. Roll it into sheets approximately 16 inches in length. Dust generously with coarse semolina flour and fold the sheet over several times to a width of about 4 inches. Use a very sharp knife or pizza wheel to cut the pasta dough into evenly spaced strips. Immediately unfold each strip and place it on a drying rack, or twirl it into a small nest to dry for an hour before cooking.
Pumpkin Pappardelle with Chili Crisp-roasted Shrimp & Mushrooms
Most of this meal happens on a sheet pan, which is a great time saver after spending an afternoon making handmade pasta.
- 1/2 batch pumpkin pappardelle (see recipe above)
- 2/3 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 sweet onion, trimmed and sliced into crescent shapes
- 4 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and halved or quartered into bite sized pieces
- About 2 tsp. chili crisp with oil* (see ingredient note)
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely shredded Parm-Romano blend (or Parmesan; preferably fresh rather than canned)
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a pot of water to boil for cooking the pappardelle. Preheat oven to 400 F, with rack in center position. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper, and drizzle it with chili crisp oil and olive oil.
- Scatter the onions and mushrooms on the sheet and roast for about 13 to 15 minutes, until onions are slightly soft and mushrooms have reduced in size. Arrange the shrimp on the sheet, drizzle with a bit more oil and return to the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the size and initial temperature of the shrimp. You want to remove the pan as soon as the shrimp are opaque. Drizzle a little more chili crisp with oil all over the shrimp and mushroom mixture, tossing to coat.
- Cook the pappardelle while the shrimp are roasting. Fresh pasta should only take about 4 to 5 minutes to reach al dente stage. Drain promptly and toss it into a large bowl with Parm-Romano and black pepper. Toss gently to coat.
- Plate the pappardelle and top with the chili crisp-coated shrimp and mushrooms. Serve immediately.