Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Alfredo
This is THE most delicious way to spruce up the classic Alfredo!
As I type this we’re just coming off the back of a random September heatwave, which has well and truly thrown my eating habits in the air. I’m usually knee-deep in soups this time of year, but I’m currently wearing a t-shirt? Anywho, I’m not waiting around any longer. I’m calling it. It’s Autumn and therefore pumpkin season is upon us. Follow me…
Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
As someone with a prominent savoury tooth, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin in a sweet context. Same goes for sweet potato. So this sauce 100% makes sense to me. If you’re usually #teamsweet just trust me on this. You’re gonna love it.
To create the sauce you’ll want to roast the pumpkin. Not only will this develop more flavour than if you were to boil it, but you also get the opportunity to throw in some garlic too. Roasted garlic is gorgeously sweet and nutty and compliments pumpkin so delightfully.
Can I use squash instead?
Yep! I use butternut squash interchangeably with this recipe. I find they differ very slightly in flavour and texture, but not enough to alter the recipe in any significant way.
Once you’ve roasted the pumpkin and garlic you’ll want to blitz them into a smooth paste. I like to add in a dash of pasta water to help things along.
Process shots: toss pumpkin in olive oil, salt and pepper (photo 1), slice tip off garlic bulb (photo 2), wrap in foil (photo 3), roast (photo 4), add to blender (photo 5), blitz until smooth (photo 6).
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
The sauce is inspired by the classic Alfredo and we’ll use the garlic pumpkin puree as the base. Here’s what else you’ll need:
- Cream – Make sure it’s heavy/double cream to keep the sauce rich and thick.
- Seasoning – I like adding some veg bouillon (stock powder) for some depth of flavour, alongside some nutmeg to compliment the pumpkin.
- Butter – I like to use unsalted to get more control over the saltiness of the dish.
- Parmesan – Ensure it’s freshly grated, not the packet/powdered stuff. Freshly grated blends through the sauce much easier.
The end result of the sauce is a rich, creamy sauce with a subtle tang of pumpkin and garlic. The flavours are mellow and it’s a simple sauce, so be sure to season well to bring it to life.
Starchy pasta water
The sauce will be pretty thick before you toss in the pasta. As such, you’ll want to stir in some of the leftover pasta water to thin it out. The starch will also help emulsify the fats and bind everything together to help create a smooth and creamy sauce. Make sure it’s well-salted and that you don’t overfill the pot of pasta with water, so that you don’t dilute the flavour of the sauce.
Process shots: add garlic pumpkin puree to pan with cream and seasoning (photo 1), stir (photo 2), add butter (photo 3), stir (photo 4), toss in pasta (photo 5), toss in parmesan (photo 6).
Pumpkin Alfredo FAQ
Can I use pumpkin puree?
We don’t have great access to pumpkin puree in the UK and I can’t say I’ve tried it. But if it’s simply pureed pumpkin, you can sub that if you fancy! The roasted pumpkin weighs around 250g, so I recommend using that much (i.e. 1 cup).
Where do I find vegetable bouillon?
You’ll find this in small tubs near the stock cubes at most supermarkets. I recommend grabbing a tub as it’s really useful for adding flavour to lots of different recipes (soups, casseroles etc.). If you don’t have it then sub 1x crumbled vegetable Oxo cube.
What kind of pasta should I use?
Fettuccine is traditional for an Alfredo sauce, but I use Tagliatelle here. In reality though, any long-cut pasta will work.
What else could I add to this recipe?
You could add pancetta or bacon, which works nicely to enhance that sweet/salty balance. Chilli flakes would add another flavour dynamic. Herbs would also work nicely (notably sage), although I like to keep them out. Just to mimic more of a classic Alfredo.
Serving Pumpkin Alfredo
You’ll want to serve it up fairly quickly, as it’ll thicken the longer it sits (although this can easily be altered with a splash of pasta water). Here I’ve served with a tiny pinch of fresh parsley, just for garnish. But this isn’t necessary at all.
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this roasted garlic pumpkin Alfredo shall we?!
How to make Pumpkin Alfredo (Full Recipe & Video)
Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Alfredo
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Foil (for roasting garlic)
- Large Baking Tray
- Food Processor & Spatula
- Large Pan
- Fine Cheese Grater
- 500g / 1lb Pumpkin or Butternut Squash, diced into chunks (see notes)
- 1 small bulb of Garlic
- 400g / 14oz Dried Fettuccine or Tagliatelle (or long-cut pasta of choice)
- 180ml / 3/4 cup Double/Heavy Cream
- 2 tsp Vegetable Bouillon Powder (see notes)
- 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 5 tbsp / 75g Unsalted Butter
- 80g / 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (see notes)
- Olive Oil, as needed
- Salt & Black Pepper, as needed
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Combine the pumpkin with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper on a large baking tray. Slice the tip off a small bulb of garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle with a dash of oil then wrap in foil and place in the middle of the tray.
- Roast everything for 45mins, or until the pumpkin is fork tender and the garlic is super soft, golden and caramelized. They should roast at similar rates, but carry on roasting the garlic if it needs a little longer. With the same token, pull the pumpkin out early if it starts charring (a little colour is fine). Leave everything to cool for 5 mins.
- Pop the pasta in well-salted water and cook until al dente.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic into a food processor and blend until smooth with the pumpkin and around 1/3 cup / 80ml pasta water.
- In a large pan over low heat, stir the cream, pumpkin puree, veg bouillon, nutmeg and 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Stir in the butter until it melts and blends into the sauce, then use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta straight from the pot into the pan, embracing any water that comes with it.
- Toss to combine, then toss in the parmesan, using more leftover pasta water to thin out the sauce a splash at a time if needed. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed (ensure it’s seasoned well to bring out the best in this simple sauce) then serve up and enjoy!
b) Vegetable Bouillon – This is an important ingredient as it adds a savoury tone to the sauce to balance out the sweetness of the garlic/pumpkin. It also adds some depth of flavour. You’ll find it in most supermarkets, usually in a small tub. If you can’t then sub 1 crumbled vegetable Oxo cube.
c) Parmesan – Again, this is an important ingredient to balance out the sweetness in the sauce. I find you need to use the whole weight in order to create a well-balanced sauce, but you might not find you need it all. If at all wary, just work it in a handful at a time until you’re satisfied with the balance of flavours. In all cases, make sure it’s freshly grated, not the powdered stuff. Freshly grated will blend through the sauce with much more ease.
d) Pasta water – Make sure your pasta water is well seasoned, so you don’t dilute the flavour of the sauce. I also recommend you don’t overfill with water – just enough to comfortably cook the pasta, just so the water is as starchy as possible.
e) Consistency – The sauce will be quite thick at the start, but as you start to toss the pasta and incorporate some pasta water, it’ll start turning in to a creamy, glossy sauce.
f) Additions – The end result is subtle, but really luscious and creamy. It’s got a mellow flavour, but all of the individual components come together to create a really delicious end result. You could add pancetta or bacon, which works nicely to enhance that sweet/salty balance. Chilli flakes would add another flavour dynamic. Herbs would also work nicely (notably sage), although I like to keep them out. Just to mimic more of a classic Alfredo.
g) Calories – Whole recipe divided by 4 assuming 1/2 tbsp olive oil used.