Creamy Kabocha Pasta
A kabocha squash makes an excellent door stop. It's hefty enough to prop your door firmly open while allowing the world to view your superb taste in squash. I know this because I bought a kabocha squash on a whim, ignored it for a week, and demoted it from food to doorstop for another week because I was too intimidated to attempt Thai curry at home. But you know what's less intimidating than curry? Pasta. This recipe boils down to a few steps (see what I did there?): roasting kabocha squash and removing the peel, caramelizing an onion, blending and seasoning the sauce, cooking pasta, and baking the squash skin to create a crunchy and pretentious topping. I seasoned my peels with smoked paprika for bacon vibes. You can blend the squash skin–and–all, but the sauce may turn an unpleasant color due to the dark peel mixing with the bright orange flesh. I hesitate to give exact measurements for the sauce because everyone has different taste preferences; just add small amounts of seasonings at a time, taste test, and stop messing with it when you've made a delicious sauce or are too tired to care anymore.
1 kabocha squash
1 yellow onion
olive oil and/or vegan butter
nutritional yeast tomato paste apple cider vinegar and/or sour kraut juice vegan chicken broth paste soy sauce chili paste or flakes smoked paprika salt & pepper
Cook orecchiette according to package. Reserve some pasta water (about 1/3 cup) for the sauce.Blend the sauce:
Remove baked squash from the oven and let it cool enough that you can handle it without burning yourself.Crispy topping:
Use a spoon to scoop the flesh of the squash from the skins and into a blender.
Add enough oat milk to allow the squash to blend into a paste. Make the sauce thicker than you would like, because it will be thinned by additional liquid ingredients.
Blend in the caramelized onions.
Now comes the experimentational part of the recipe: seasoning the sauce. This should be done to taste, but I'll explain what the ingredients do for the sauce and give rough estimations of the quantities I used. Melted vegan butter or oil (1.5 tbsp) will create a rich, creamy base. Our umami friends: tomato paste (1.5 tbsp), vegan chicken broth paste (1 tsp), and soy sauce (1 tbsp); add these a little at a time. Nutritional yeast (2–3 tbsp) will provide that almost–cheesy flavor. Apple cider vinegar or sour kraut juice will give you a much–needed tang to balance out the richness; add a little at a time. I think you know what chilis, salt, and pepper do. Use pasta water to thin the sauce to your final desired consistency.
Toss or spritz the squash skins with oil. Salt and pepper to taste.Assemble:
Bake at 450ºF until crispy.
Sprinkle with smoked paprika for a bacon–ish flavor.
Mix pasta with sauce over heat and top with crispy squash skins.
Oat milk: I find that it is the creamiest of vegan milks.
Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base: Because this is a paste, it's ideal for adding a bit at a time without diluting the sauce.
Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce: I'm obsessed with this paste made from Calabrian chilis. It's fermented, but not funky, and a nice alternative to Sriracha.