Pumpkin-Poblano Pasta with Baby Bok Choy + Shrimp

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Fall is on its way, and I'm definitely already starting to see all things pumpkin popping up—from pumpkin lattes to pumpkin pancakes to pumpkin [fill-in-the-blank].

I am in full support of the pumpkin movement, but I find that all these things have a similar flavor.

Don't get me wrong: I love pumpkin, but I also know it can be paired with more than just cinnamon.

Because of this, I wanted to share this Pumpkin-Poblano Pasta from my book Meat On The Side. It combines pumpkin puree with peppers and shrimp for a creamy, sweet, and spicy sauce.

And the entire recipe only uses ten ingredients and is done in about the time it takes for the pasta to cook!

Pumpkin-Poblano Pasta with Baby Bok Choy + Shrimp

servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 poblano chile
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 3 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 4 baby bok choys, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 16 jumbo shrimp (16/20 size), peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions (green parts only)
  • ¼ cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Directions:

  1. Use the broiler or gas burner on the stovetop to roast the poblano: Simply place it under or over the flame (use tongs if you’re working on the stovetop) and cook until mostly black on all sides—5 to 8 minutes, turning as needed. Place the poblano in a plastic food storage bag; seal the bag. When the poblano is cool, rub off the skin with a paper towel. Cut the poblano open lengthwise and then remove its stem and seeds.
  2. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the pasta. While it is heating, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the shallots and garlic and sauté until tender—about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and 1 teaspoon of the salt until incorporated; then stir in the pumpkin, mixing well, and cook for 3 minutes more.
  3. Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a food processor or blender. Add the poblano and process to a smooth puree. Spoon the mixture back into the skillet. Stir in about two-thirds of the cheese along with the nutmeg and cinnamon (you’ll use the rest of the cheese for a garnish). Keep the skillet over low heat while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Cook the pasta in the now-boiling water until al dente according to the package directions. When it is done, drain it, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  5. While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a second large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the bok choy, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and cook until tender—3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the bok choy to a medium bowl. Add the shrimp to the same skillet and sprinkle them with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; sauté until pink—about 5 minutes, turning once. Return the bok choy to the skillet and heat through.
  6. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the pumpkin sauce; toss to coat the pasta. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in some of the reserved pasta cooking water until it has your desired consistency.
  7. Serve immediately, dividing the pasta among 4 dinner plates and topping each portion with one-quarter of the bok choy and 4 shrimp. Scatter the scallions, pumpkin seeds, and remaining cheese evenly over the tops.

Notes:

  • Keep It Simple - (1) Substitute kale, radicchio, or cabbage for the bok choy. (2) Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream instead of the goat cheese. Also add a sprinkle of Parmesan to bump up the flavor if you have it on hand. (3) If you don’t want to bother with roasting the poblano chile, simply seed and chop it, and then sauté it with the shallots and garlic: a quick alternative for a similar taste.
  • 50/50 - This pasta is as good without shrimp as it is with; simply omit the shrimp to give vegetarians a satisfying meal. If you’re making some veggie versions and some shrimp ones, just cook the shrimp separately and add to the plates you want.
  • Family Friendly - Leave off the bok choy for pickier eaters, or puree it up with the rest of the pumpkin-poblano mixture and they will never know it’s in there.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
 

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Sausage + Pepper Boxed Mac + Cheese

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I love this recipe because it makes boxed mac and cheese into a complete meal.

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A complete meal complete with the mouth-watering flavor combination of sausage, peppers, and cheese.

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You sauté up the peppers and sausage while the pasta cooks up, so there's minimal extra time involved in hacking this mac!

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Then it all gets mixed together into one cheesy, porky mess.

Vegetables, protein, cheese, and carbs—not bad for something that (mostly) came out of a box!

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Sausage + Pepper Boxed Mac + Cheese

servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups beef stock
  • One 14-ounce box macaroni + cheese with liquid sauce packet
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 link sweet Italian sausage (about 4 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Add the stock to a large pot over high heat for cooking the macaroni. When the water boils, add the macaroni and cook until al dente—8 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain when finished, but do not rinse, then return to the pot.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pepper, sausage, paprika, and salt and cook until the sausage is browned all over and cooked through—about 5 minutes, stirring to break it up.
  3. Return the pot with the cooked pasta to a burner set at medium heat. Add the cooked peppers and sausage along with the cheese sauce packet, then stir to combine.
  4. To serve, divide evenly among 4 bowls.
: @NikkiDinki

: @NikkiDinkiCooking
Sausage and Pepper Boxed Mac and Cheese 5.jpg
 

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Red Pepper + Lemon Dip

The food processor is my best friend.

As much as I love to be in the kitchen, there is always a point that if I have to chop one more clove of garlic I just might snap. Let's face it, prep is no fun! That’s why all the big name chefs have prep cooks in their restaurants. The prep cooks do all the dirty work and the real chefs get to just throw things in a pan and light them on fire.

So the closest thing to a prep cook that I can manage in my meager kitchen is...THE FOOD PROCESSOR.

I call him Francesco.

There is nothing better than throwing a bunch of ingredients into Francesco’s able hands and suddenly having something, well...quite tasty! So I bring you yet another quick dip featuring my partner in crime, the food processor...

RECIPE:

2 Roasted Red Peppers

1lemon Juice and Zest

2Tbs Olive Oil

1.5tsp salt

1Tbs parsley

1Tbs basil

6oz cream cheese

      Put all ingredients in a food processor and chop until pureed and smooth. Serve on it’s own as a dip or over pasta, shrimp or chicken! ENJOY!

 

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Red Pepper Pesto

RECIPE:

¼ cup Pinenuts

2 Roasted Red Peppers

1 tsp Thyme Leaves

3 Garlic Cloves

1 Shallot

½ cup Parmesan

2tsp Kosher Salt

¼ Olive Oil

Pulse everything in a food processor until well combined and pureed. Toss over pasta, rice or serve over fish or chicken. 

 

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Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 large roasted red peppers (jarred or fresh)

1 roasted jalapeño, seeded

4 garlic cloves

2 scallions

1 tablespoon fresh mint

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon paprika

Juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon butter

Put oil in pan and add garlic, cook for 1 minute till fragrant and add Red Peppers, Jalapeño and Scallions. Salt mixture and add Herbs and Paprika. Cook for 3 more minutes. Put mixture in food processor of blender, add sour cream and puree. Transfer back to pan, add butter and lemon juice, cook for 2 minutes. ENJOY!!

NOTES:

  • I have found a slightly easier way to make this since I did this video. Just put everything except the sour cream, butter and lemon in the food processor (raw) once everything is pureed put mixture into the hot pan with the oil and cook for5 minutes. Add the sour cream, butter and cook for 2 minutes more, finally add the lemon and serve.
  • You could use parsley or even basil instead of the mint and thyme but I do this those herbs add something special.
  • Great as a dip too! You could also add some cream cheese to thicken it up.

 

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