A few days ago I took a venture in to Leslieville, a neighbourhood I’ve admittedly never known too much about. I always knew Leslieville as the place where the hipsters in the East end lived. Anyway, I was there with my friend Drew to buy some yarn and learn to knit. I’m happy to say that the whole learning-to-knit thing went quite well. Of course, I found myself continually distracted by the shop next door, a cute little market called Raise the Root. I explained to Drew, I have a bit of a problem with independent markets. By “a problem with” I mean “a problem with staying away from them.”
When I went in, I was lucky enough to see a demonstration from a local Toronto food business, Good Food For Good. I think it’s not only really important to support local businesses, you find things you wouldn’t normally be able to find anywhere else. It didn’t take a lot of convincing for me to take home a jar of the Vindaloo sauce.
Of course, I couldn’t just make a standard stir-fry with this. Being me, I had to do something different.
I love a good pasta, so I thought, “How can I incorporate this into pasta without seeming too weird?”
I give you, Pumpkin Vindaloo Pasta — it’s sweet, it’s smoky, it’s tangy. You can add any veggies you like to this (I bet it would be good with some shredded carrots), but I went for my classic, tomatoes and spinach.
Pumpkin Vindaloo Pasta, serves 2
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup penne or other small pasta (I used a gluten-free brand)
- 1 whole tomato
- 2-3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tbsp Vindaloo sauce (more if you’re really into spicy!)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 cup spinach
- Sunflower seeds, shelled
- Warm the olive oil in a large nonstick pan on low heat. Add the chopped garlic and the tomato, also chopped (I kept it in large wedges). Let this simmer on low for about 15 minutes to get really soft and fragrant.
- Cook the pasta according to directions. Before it’s finished, ladle out about 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
- Mix the sauce — add the pumpkin puree, garam masala, allspice, nutritional yeast, cilantro and vindaloo sauce and mix thoroughly. It will still be very pasty, but worry not!
- Once the pasta is finished, add it to the pan and mix in the pumpkin sauce. Gently add your pasta water to make it a little more sauce-like and coat the pasta.
- Add in your spinach and cover the pasta for a few minutes. Once the spinach is wilted, it’s ready to serve.
- Top with sunflower seeds and whatever else you like — though honestly, this dish doesn’t need many other flavours!
This dish turned out to be such a wonderful, unique, smokey flavour! You’d never expect that from sweet, pure pumpkin. What’s your favourite unconventional pumpkin dish?