Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vegan Pumpkin Pasta

A couple years ago, before I was vegan, I had a dinner party in my little apartment, bringing together people who previously had not known each other but who I knew would get along. It was a very adult thing to do; at least I felt adult doing it.  I cooked all day, the windows open to let in the cool autumn air. Before anyone arrived, my decades-old green table with spots of bare wood sticking through the paint was adorned with serving platters, a gravy boat and plenty of food. I set a jazz Pandora station to play on my iPad at just the right level. I made sure to finish the cooking before anyone arrived, so I could spend my time as a gracious hostess. My heart beat fast as I waited for my guests to arrive, people I'd known for years. 

There were only five people, including myself, and the apartment was crammed. I almost did not have to get up to bring the dishes from the stove to the table. Some people were in chairs, others were on the two-person couch. Still a few months from meeting my beau, I sat among the two married couples and enjoyed abundant conversation between kindly minds.

The only dinner party rule I broke was probably the biggest and one I still break often without remorse -- I served dishes I had never made before. I hosted the party to have a fun grownup meeting,  yes, but also so I could try something new. There was pumpkin, sweet potato and apple cider. The spices of fall abounded, and every dish was a hit.

I look back on that evening so fondly as a moment of Amanda growing into herself, throwing a party with married couples in her very own, no-roommates apartment. The dishes were an important part of that evening, and so I knew I had to veganize the Pumpkin Pasta dish. Last weekend, I served it in the very same apartment, on the very same table, in the company of my beau, and the cycle felt complete.

Here, it is, veganized, with mushrooms and a little cheat to it.

Vegan Pumpkin Pasta
adapted from The Food Network

1 lb whole wheat penne
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 cup water + 1 cup water
3 shallots, finely chopped
4 (2 tsp) garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups butternut squash soup from a carton
15 oz pumpkin puree
1 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste
10 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced

1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.
2. In a medium or large pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the mushroom, then the 1/8 cup water. Sauté five minutes, or until mushrooms are soft and brown. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.
3. Return pan to heat and add the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook for three minutes. Add soup, 1 cup water, pumpkin, hot sauce, nutmeg cinnamon, salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for three to five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
4. Stir in pasta, mushrooms and most of the sage. 
5. Serve immediately, adding the rest of the sage to the top for garnish.

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