I’ll be the first to admit it - I was never really on Team “Homemade Pasta”. My general mindset was that the convenience of grabbing that ever-present package of spaghetti out of the pantry and whipping up a pretty little weeknight dinner will almost always win out over the elevated flavor and texture of the fresh stuff - and for the fresh stuff, I had that cute little Italian place on the corner that sold wine in carafes and served pasta in sizes that would last for several meals.
Over time, it almost became a sore spot for me. Despite spending days of my life rolling up bagels, perfecting mayonnaise, and even making several kinds of ramen noodles from scratch, fresh pasta always seemed a little more intimidating - and who has counter space for a pasta machine, anyways? I would tell myself every time I would swipe by another fresh pasta story on Instagram.
But when tasked with creating a show-stopping recipe for the highly underappreciated “National Pasta Day,” I knew the moment had come when I would overcome my irrational fear and take the plunge into the tantalizing world of fresh pasta. Like everything else I’m passionate about, I dove into this assignment with gusto. My waking and sleeping life became filled with questions like semolina or all-purpose flour? Knead or no-knead? Oil or no oil? Do I really need a pasta machine??
Despite all the endless methodologies, I eventually found perfection. Velvet, golden noodles with the perfect amount of chew in just around an hour with only 3 ingredients - and without a pasta machine. What they lack in perfect symmetry, they make up for in rustic elegance and rich, full flavor. Even the slightly-thicker-than-normal thickness is welcome, because it signifies the independence from single-use appliances that we’ve accomplished here by avoiding the pasta machine altogether. But what sauce could possibly work to elevate these elegant-yet-slightly asymmetrical strands?
Enter Cheesy Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce sauce. It’s fall, so we need pumpkin. The world is chaotic, so we need cheese. And after rolling out a pound of gorgeous, sun-colored pasta noodles, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend another couple hours slaving over a homemade ragu. By replacing the cream found in most modern alfredo recipes with a big ol’ scoop of pumpkin puree, yet keeping the requisite grated parmesan, the result is a surprisingly quick sauce that is far creamier and far cheesier than it has any right to be. A VERY non-optional sprinkle of nutmeg and a handful of fresh basil transforms this sauce from simple pumpkin cheese sauce into a wildly decadent, yet slightly-less-guilty Alfredo.
So set aside a few hours this weekend - whether it’s date night in, a way to unwind from a busy week of zoom calls, or you’re just really, really missing your favorite pasta place - this simple yet rewarding recipe is the warm hug of fall flavors we all need right now.