Monday, October 26, 2015

Calabaza Pasta with Roasted Holland Pepper, Pepitas and Saffron Crème

     A Nice Pasta For The Autumn And Winter Seasons! 
     The flavor combination of calabaza (Mexican Pumpkin) and roasted sweet Holland Peppers is nice with a saffron cream sauce.  Pepitas are toasted calabaza seeds and they add a nice nutty crunch.  Ginger accents the flavor of saffron and calabaza.
     Pumpkin is a calabaza hybrid.  Calabaza are in the squash and gourd family of plants.  Calabaza do come in several different shapes, sizes and colors.  Calabaza is a Native American staple and it has a long history of being used in South American, Central American and North American native cuisine.
    Calabaza that were hybridized in Mexico have a darker, richer tasting, meaty flesh than standard pumpkin.  Many Mexican calabaza varietals have a dark reddish orange color meat.  Calabaza is commonly used in savory recipes outside of European American cuisine.  These kinds of rich tasting calabaza can also be used to make a superior pumpkin pie!

     The calabaza shaped pasta has an interesting look to it.  The calabaza pasta shape is considered to be an artisan pasta.  The problem with calabaza shaped pasta is that the thin gauge ones tend to split and shred when they are cooked.  If you select a bag of thin gauge calabaza shaped pasta, it is best to cook a little more calabaza pasta than what is needed, so the broken calabaza pasta pieces can be sorted out.

     I wanted to create a different kind of fall pumpkin pasta that did not have a curry spice sauce like so many other chefs already offer.  German winter spices are the other flavor that most chefs use for pumpkin or calabaza, but winter spices are not really a good choice for a savory pasta entrée.  Saffron was my choice and it turned out to be a good one.  Saffron is also used in many Spanish recipes.  Today's Calabaza Pasta with Holland Pepper, Pepitas and Saffron Crème recipe turned out to be very tasty!

     Roasted Holland Pepper:
     Holland Peppers are also called Sweet Yellow Bell Pepper.
     Lightly brush 1 Yellow Holland Pepper with vegetable oil.
     Place the pepper on a small roasting pan.
     Roast the pepper in a 325ºF oven till it shows a few brown highlights.
     Cool the pepper under cold running water.
     Peel the skin off of the pepper and remove the seeds.
     Cut 1/2 of the Roasted Holland Pepper into thin strips and set them aside.  (Save the other half of the Roasted Holland Pepper for another recipe.)
     Calabaza Pasta with Roasted Holland Pepper, Pepitas and Saffron Crème:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.
     *Mexican Calabaza are richer tasting than pumpkin and they cook as quickly as field squash.
     *Calabaza Pasta is shaped like a little Calabaza.  Thick walled Calabaza Pasta do not break apart when boiled.  Thin walled Calabaza Pasta easily break apart in boiling water.  Add some extra Calabaza Pasta if the thin gauge Calabaza Pasta used, then sort out the broken pieces.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of calabaza pasta in boiling water till it is al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta and set it aside.
     Step 2:  Cut a thick wedge of calabaza or pumpkin.  (About 4 to 5 ounces of calabaza meat is needed for this recipe.)
     Scrape off the seeds and loose pulp.
     Trim the rind off of the calabaza.
     Dice the calabaza meat into small cube shaped pieces.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add the reserved diced pumpkin.
     Sauté till golden highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 cup of light chicken broth.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Add 1 small pinch of crumbled Crocus sativa Saffron.  (Or add 1/2 teaspoon of safflower saffron.)
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium/medium high heat.
     Quickly simmer and reduce the liquid, till only about 3 tablespoons remain.
     Step 6:  Add 1 cup of cream.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce till it is a thin consistency.
     Step 7:  Add the reserved Roasted Holland Pepper strips.
     Add the reserved portion of al dente cooked calabaza shaped pasta.
     Toss the pasta and sauce together.
     Briefly simmer and reduce till the sauce clings to the pasta.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from  the heat.
     Place the pasta on a plate.
     Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of pepitas (toasted calabaza seeds) over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced green onion on the pasta.
     Garnish with a sprig of Cilantro or Italian Parsley .
     The flavor of this pasta is easy to like!

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