This creamy pumpkin pasta sauce is the ULTIMATE fall comfort food! Roasted garlic, onion, and sage fill it with cozy, complex autumn flavor.
Heads up! If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you’ll need to plan ahead when you make this recipe. Make sure to soak the cashews overnight, or for at least 4 hours, before you start to cook. That way, they’ll get really smooth and creamy in the blender.
The pumpkin and cashews create a luscious puree on their own, but the addition of pasta water is what transforms them into a sauce. This salty, starchy water loosens the puree, amps up its flavor, and helps it stick to the cooked pasta. Reserve at least 1/2 cup before you drain the pasta!
You should season to taste anytime you’re cooking, but it’s especially important in this pumpkin pasta sauce recipe. The flavor of your final dish will depend on your particular brand of vegetable broth, the saltiness of your pasta water, and how generously you salt the vegetables before you roast them. There’s a good chance you’ll need to add another pinch of salt or a few extra grinds of pepper before you eat. Make sure to taste and adjust to create a pasta dish you love!
This creamy pumpkin pasta sauce is the ULTIMATE fall comfort food! Serve it over penne, like I do here, or any pasta shape you like. This recipe works best in a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. If you’re using a regular blender, be sure to soak your cashews overnight.
- ½ kabocha squash or small sugar pie pumpkin, to yield 1 heaping cup cooked mash
- ½ yellow onion, sliced into wedges
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
- 5 large fresh sage leaves
- ¾ cup vegetable broth
- ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for 4 hours or overnight, drained and rinsed
- 16 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the pumpkin, onion, and garlic on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn the pumpkin cut-side down and pierce a few holes in the skin with a fork. Cover with another sheet of foil and bake until the onion is soft and the pumpkin flesh is very tender, 35 minutes to 1 hour.
- Add the sage to the pan during the last few minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, keeping everything covered, and let it continue to steam for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Pour the vegetable broth into a high-speed blender. Remove the skin and add the pumpkin flesh to the blender along with the onion, peeled garlic, sage, cashews, ½ teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and blend again. (If your sauce is not smooth and creamy, add a little more broth or olive oil and blend it longer).
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions or until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in half the sauce, adding more as needed to coat the pasta. Add the reserved pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, to thin the sauce and make it creamy. Add the remaining sauce as desired. Taste and season with more salt and pepper. Serve hot.