It’s autumn in the Cape. And that means time for pumpkins! I like to make butternut or pumpkin soup, but to make it every week it’s a bit boring. But I love the combination of pumpkin, herbs and spices. So therefore I’ll share today a pasta dish with you, with a butternut sauce, feta cheese, walnuts, chili flakes and dried thyme. It’s easy to make, suitable for children, and adults like it too. Light the fireplace, cook this meal and your kitchen will be filled with delicious smells, and enjoy the beautiful autumn days we get in South Africa.
1 big pumpkin or butternut, or 2 smaller ones
2 onions, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic (or 3 if you’d like to go easy on the garlic), crushed and finely chopped
200-300 ml vegetable stock
150 gram raw walnuts, roughly chopped
2 slices of feta cheese, crumbled or in cubes
350 gram fusilli pasta (or penne, take a pasta with some bite)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika powder
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of sea salt
Peel the pumpkin (I used a butternut): cut the top and bottom off, and halve the butternut lengthwise.
Take out the seeds with a spoon and cut the flesh in small cubes, all about the same size (1 cm).
Finely chop the onion, crush and chop the garlic, and sauté together over medium heat in olive oil until soft (take about 4 minutes).
Add the pumpkin/butternut, stir and fry for a few minutes and then add the chilli flakes, thyme and paprika powder. Also add the stock, together with the bay leaves. Bring to boil and turn down heat so it just simmers.
Let simmer with lid on the pan for about 20-25 minutes.
Make sure the pumpkin-mixture is just covered with enough stock, but also not too much – you don’t make soup. You want a nice thick sauce in the end, so check your pan every now, and stir. If the mixture is too dry already soon, add more liquid, but only if it’s necessary. Again: you don’t make soup, but sauce. If there is too much liquid it’s also easy to solve: take off the lid and let simmer until you are happy again with result.
When the pumpkin is soft, take out the bay leaves and smash with a wooden spoon. Taste and add pepper and salt.
In the meanwhile cook your pasta al dente as described on packaging. Crumble or cut the feta and roughly chop the walnuts. Drain pasta, add the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Divide on plates and garnish with enough feta and walnuts. Finish off with some fresh black pepper to taste.