October’s gold

As we pass the dim and gentle end of summer’s vigor, a bout of cold marks the start of a new season. Autumn’s shift is perhaps the most punctual of all – a change in light, a change in pace and most certainly a change in appetite.

Meals cooked in autumn are more considered than their younger, sun-kissed counterparts. Rich, deep braises and heady stews occupy the stove for whole afternoons, inviting all nearby to a sniff and a stir. It is this time of year when the enjoyment of a meal starts with pen and paper, and a simple shopping list can evoke an appetite in an instant.

The pumpkin is without question the workhorse of the colder months, providing many a meal from one gourd and fit-to-burst with vibrant colour and sweet, nutty flavour. This recipe partners a remarkable variety of pumpkin from Northern Italy with a rich and smooth goat’s cheese from the West of England. The balance of luxurious sweetness and bright acidity make for an extremely comforting sauce – an excellent remedy for the bracing cold.

Toss this sauce through fresh ribbons of tagliatelle or a pot of al dente trofie. Once chilled, the pumpkin mix can be kept for several days and used to fill ravioli or tortelloni, too.

Serves six
1kg pumpkin (Delica, Onion/Red Kuri, Musquee de Provence, Crown Prince)
1 whole nutmeg 
100g Parmesan
200g Ragstone
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey (a robust honey like chestnut works well)
600g dried trofie or fresh tagliatelle

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Cut your pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and place cut-side-down into a casserole pot or dutch oven (anything heavy and oven-proof with a lid). Add a splash of water, place the lid on top and roast for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife passes easily through the flesh. 
  2. Scoop the cooked pumpkin out of it’s skin and into a mixing bowl. Finely grate half the nutmeg and all of the Parmesan into the mixture and beat well with a spoon or spatula until smooth. 
  3. Finely chop your goat’s cheese and beat into your pumpkin mixture, along with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and the honey. Check the mixture for seasoning and adjust with salt and freshly ground black pepper – it should be slightly sweet and slightly salty.
  4. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, use tongs to drag your pasta from the cooking pan into the mixing bowl. The idea here is to take a little of the pasta cooking water with the cooked pasta to slightly loosen the pumpkin mixture. Toss together until all the pasta is evenly coated and serve in warm bowls. Finish with a little extra grating of nutmeg, a few leaves of sage cooked in hot oil (if you have them) and a drizzle of olive oil.