Creamy, filling, seasonal pasta for all the pumpkin fans. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at or 504-0545.

I know how excited people get at this time of year when the weather turns brisk and the pumpkins are plentiful. At every turn, there is one more thing with a pumpkin spice flavor and/or scent.

I admit that it was never really my thing, but in recent years I’ve joined team pumpkin after spending time with friends and family members who think spicy pumpkin anything is the best thing going. So here I am, offering you both a savory and a sweet choice.

This versatile pasta dish can be made with low-fat milk and cream cheese if you prefer and can also be dressed up with crisp diced bacon, pancetta or ham. Use whatever type of pasta you have on hand and if you would like to make this dish ahead, the pasta and sauce can be combined then spooned into a buttered baking dish and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. When you want to serve it, thaw, add a bread crumb topping and heat in the oven at 350 degrees until bubbling.

My sister is responsible for introducing me to pumpkin crisp and, oh my, I love it and it has truly become a family favorite. Do yourself a favor and make your own pumpkin pie spice. This will come in handy, adding seasonal flavor and warmth to everything from coffee and cocktails to squash and pumpkin side dishes, to just about any autumnal dessert. Vive la pumpkin spice!

Pasta with pumpkin cream sauce

1 pound dry pasta, any variety

3 tablespoons butter


4 cloves garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

1 cup pumpkin puree

3 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks, room temperature

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves, divided


3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 cup pasta water (may not use it all)


1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup whole sage leaves for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add garlic and saute for 1-3 minutes. Add flour, then whisk constantly until it turns a golden color and smells nutty. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Increase heat to medium high, then let cook, stirring constantly, until sauce bubbles and thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes.


Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the pumpkin, cream cheese, chopped sage, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne. Continue whisking until the cream cheese melts and sauce is smooth. Taste and season more if needed.

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sage leaves and fry just until crisp then drain on a paper towel.

Toss pasta with sauce to combine, thinning with a bit of the reserved pasta water as needed. Add Parmesan and toss again. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and fried sage leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

Pumpkin crisp


2 cups regular or quick oats


2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons store-bought pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon homemade spice (see below)

1 cup butter, cold and cubed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar and pumpkin spice. Add cubed butter and use your hands or a fork to combine until butter pieces are no larger than small peas.

Spread 4 cups of crisp mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan and press flat. Set the remaining crisp mixture aside.


Pumpkin filling

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon homemade spice (see below)


1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined. Add pumpkin, cream, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and kosher salt. Whisk ingredients together until smooth. Pour mixture on top of the crisp layer.

Sprinkle remaining crisp mixture over top of the pumpkin.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve (warm or cold) with whipped cream or ice cream.

Yield: 12 servings


Pumpkin spice

4 tablespoons cinnamon

4 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 6 tablespoons

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