A Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake with Pistachios & Goat Cheese for Virtual Pumpkin Party

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh

Announcement: I am hosting a Persian Autumn dinner in Rome, Trastevere on November 5th to kick start my supper club. Tickets are on sale and they’re selling fast. Get yours if you’re in town. 

The Virtual Family Gathering

When Aimee contacted me a while ago to take part in the huge food blogger round up for a virtual pumpkin party, automatically my mind started searching for something Persian and sweet. But then I remembered I had already posted my favorite Persian pumpkin dessert last year. So after giving it some thought, I knew I was going for an Italian recipe for this orange marvel of Autumn. A savory one. 

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-1

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-14
Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-9

A hearty pasta bake, I thought. (believe it or not, this is my first pasta recipe on the blog!) A baked pasta dish is the heart of an Italian table at Sunday’s lunch. Just think lasagna, cannelloni or other pasta bakes. It’s often cooked by a granny, or a collaboration of aunts. It should be bubbling hot and cheesy, yet with crunchy and crispy at the edges of the pan, just instant before being burnt. That’s what your guest will fight to get, the angles of baked pasta, kinda of like our Persian tahdig (the crust at the bottom of a rice pot).

Try to picture this big family reunion on a Sunday; where you hear that distant hums of everyone chatting in the kitchen while preparing, when you’re chilling on a couch. It’s a crisp, cool day in October, a large number people sit at one enormous table, break bread, chat and share their stories over a meal. 

This round up is a kinda like those Sunday family lunches; we’re in one hundred and eleven! ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN pumpkin recipes, from different places, and different people. You can find the complete list of all the fellow bloggers with a link to their post after my recipe.

Before I let you sit back and enjoy all these beautiful posts, I should thank Sara and Aimiee for “hosting” this party and all the organization. It’s a tough job, we know, and we’re very grateful of all this shared bounty. <3

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-11
Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-13

Tips for The Pumpkin Pasta Bake with a Persian Touch

This pasta bake is extremely simple, and unlike the typical Italian pasta al forno, is not too heavy/oily/cheesy. I have used only parmesan and aged goat cheese. By all means do add besciamella when layering the pasta if you feel like it. I found the saffron pumpkin sauce sufficiently creamy and wet to embrace all the pasta.

The reason I used aged goat cheese is that the pumpkin sauce (since quite simple), is very sweet, so the full and strong flavor of aged goat cheese is crucial to create a balance between the sweetness and tartness of this dish.

I have used whole grain conchiglie (sea shell) pasta, and I suggest you use a short pasta that can absorb all the sauce. Fusilli e penne can also work well. Use whole grain pasta to get more nutritional goodness and fiber. (Also, refined carbs don’t like me much.)

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-5

For this recipe, I cut the pumpkin (I used kabocha squash) in small pieces for roasting the oven, because I wanted to increase the surface of caramelization on the pumpkin, gives a depth to the flavor. But you can just roast the pumpkin  and scoop out the flesh for making the sauce, although in my opinion it will be too sweet this way. The skin is edible and delicious too! Don’t waste it. I also put two mandarines (cut in half) for roasting the pumpkin in the oven, merely for good (holidayish) smell. 

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake with Pistachios and Goat cheese
Serves 5
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 750g [1.7 lbs] (kabocha) squash, peeled and chopped
  2. 400g [3/4 lbs] whole grain sea shell pasta
  3. 200g grated parmesan cheese
  4. 150 grated hard goat cheese (or percorino)
  5. 1 tsbp of coarse sea salt + more for seasing the pasta water
  6. 4-5 tbsp EVO oil + more for greasing the pant
  7. 50g [1.8 oz] pistachios, crushed
  8. 2g high quality saffron
  9. Juice of 1/2 large lemon (or one entire)
  10. 2 mandarins*
  11. 1 red onion, with skin and root, cut into 6 wedges
  12. 3 whole cloves garlic
  13. 2 small mandarines, cut in half (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the over at 180° C/350° F/ Gas mark four.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the chopped pumpkin, the garlic cloves and the onions with the lemon juice, 2 tbsp EVO oil and salt. Move the seasoned pumpkin to an oven tray covered with baking sheets, add the mandarine halves and put the tray in top-centre of the oven. After roasting for about 10 minutes, check the pumpkins, if you see it's browning super quickly while it's still raw inside, turn down the heat, put the tray on top level and let roast until the pumpkin is the soft when you put a fork in it and the edges have slightly browned. Should take about 20 to 40 minutes.
  3. In a large pan, bring water to boil for cooking the pasta. When the water comes to boils, in a small espresso cup make saffron infusion by adding the (finally crushed) saffron threads to about 2-2 tbsp of hot water. Cover the cup and let it rest.
  4. In a blender, mix roasted pumpkin with 2 tbsp of EVO oil (or more if you prefer), with about 1 cup of hot water. Add the water gradually. This mixture can be very thick in the beginning and by adding hot water. At the end, add the saffron infusion. Adjust the salt and add more water if needed.
  5. Preheat the over at 180° C/350° F/ Gas mark four. Season the pasta water with salt (35g for each liter of water). Cook the pasta using the instruction on the package and drain it very al dente (2 minutes less than indicated). Before draining save about a cup of pasta water.
  6. Mix the drained pasta with the pumpkin sauce and if needed, add some pasta water to loosen the mixture. Add 1/4 of the goat cheese and 1/4 of the parmesan and mix well.
  7. Brush a large baking pan with EVO olive, add half of the pasta to the pan. Sprinkle half of the remaining parmesan and goat cheese and half the pistachios.
  8. Add the remaining pasta, sprinkle the rest of the pistachios on top, cover with the rest of the cheese and add a little EVO oil on top.
  9. Bake in the oven until the top crust is golden and the pasta is browned in the edges (about 20 minutes).
Notes
  1. You can serve the pasta hot from the oven or even at room temperature.
Lab Noon http://www.labnoon.com/

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-4
Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-15

Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-7

111 Recipes for the Virtual Pumpkin Party!

  • Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake for Virtual Pumpkin Party | Pasta al Forno con la Zucca | Lab Noon by Saghar Setareh-6
Saghar Setareh

Saghar Setareh

Saghar is a Rome-based visual storyteller, currently focussed on food photography and blogging, and curation and management of digital content, where puts her specializations in graphic design, and web & social media strategy to good use.
Coming from Iran, she mostly develops her recipes by combining the aromas of the middle east with the flavors of the Mediterranean, specially Italy, where she has found her second home.
Saghar Setareh

29 Comments A Saffron Pumpkin Pasta Bake with Pistachios & Goat Cheese for Virtual Pumpkin Party

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  2. Olive the sous Chef

    111 feels like a great number for a roundup :D
    Conchiglie are my favorite shape- their like the perfect spoon for sauces + morsels! Loving that you popped some smell-good-holiday-yum in there, too <3

    Reply
  3. appeasingafoodgeek

    Yummmmm! Love the flavor combos you’ve got here. Going to the top of my pumpkin to-make list! And boy is it long ;) Happy #virtualpumpkinparty!

    Reply
  4. Sarah | Well and Full

    Pasta bakes were always my FAVORITE at family parties. And you’re right, it’s usually made by a whole gaggle of aunts ;) But the pasta bakes of my childhood don’t stand a chance to this recipe, though! Talk about next level cooking! I love the combination of saffron and pumpkin, it sounds delicious :)

    Reply
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  6. Lynn | The Road to Honey

    First off. . .the hubby and I just got back from Rome. We really adore this city. . .the architecture, the food, the people. But now I’m sad that we will miss your Persian Autumn Dinner. The hubby is Persian and never turns down the opportunity to feast on fine Persian cuisine. And you so tease me with the mere mention of tahdig!! Fortunately the hubby always lets me have the bigger portion. ;-)

    As for this pasta. . .well it is bringing back so many memories of Italy. It’s simply stunning. . .and those flavors. . . irresistible!

    Reply
  7. hannah-phoebe

    what i have absolutely loved is how this party has introduced me to so many new bloggers and such a broad variety! for e.g. I normally follow only vegan food bloggers but have really enjoyed reading the words and seeing the photos of non-vegan bloggers even if I won’t make the recipe! This is so beautiful – I echo Aimee’s words that it looks Old Masters-esque. And who knows…. maybe i will try it without the cheese :)

    Reply
    1. Saghar SetarehSaghar Setareh

      Hi Hannah! Thanks so much for the sweet words! I do agree that nicest thing about these virtual parties is discovering more talented people. I do follow a lot of blogs too whose recipes I’d most probably never make, but it’s always inspiring to see what other people are doing.
      But we’ve been so many and I haven’t had the time to check everybody’s post. A pity, but I plan to do that soon :)

      Reply
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