Pumpkin Pasta with Crispy Chickpeas and Shiitake Bacon
I was so honoured to cook this recipe recently in front of my first live audience, at Castle Towers Shopping Centre, at a pop-up kitchen for their new Cooking School.
What a strange feeling it was in the lead up. To be so happy with a recipe yourself, and to eat it regularly. Would people like it? Would they baulk at the idea of there being no meat? Would I forget everything I wanted to say and stare blankly at them all red-faced?
All of the uncertainties about myself and my abilities flooded in, and doubt overshadowed all that lay ahead.
It's amazing how we can build things up in our minds.
Why does it often always lead to the worse case scenario, as opposed to the best?
Why, when imagining do we not automatically picture the best situation that could occur?
The amazing support I received from the online community in the lead-up, really gave the confidence to give it my best shot. And guess what.. it was AMAZING!
Everyone loved the food and the tips I provided, they even came back for seconds, and ate all the extras I'd cooked!
Here I am in action...
You can also check out the full video after the fact, as I was recorded on Facebook Live
For this recipe, it focuses on using roast Pumpkin as the main ingredient in the sauce. Much better for you that bottled sauces you can buy in the shops, full of additives, oils and sugars. Roasting pumpkin and vegetables in general, just brings out the most amazing depth of flavour.
For the noodles I swapped out traditional pasta for a combination of Edamame & Mung Bean noodles mixed with Zucchini noodles (Zoodles). The Edamame Noodles are made of just that - Edamame. So they are very high in protein, low in fat, and most of the carbs is fibre. Plus they are the closest thing I've found to healthy pasta that tastes like pasta!
Zoodles help add another veggie, plus they add volume to the dish, so you feel like you're getting a lot more to eat. And for people like me who love food, this is a must have.
The crispy chickpeas are fantastic to add texture to this dish, but if you make extras, they're a fabulous protein snack, or a nut-free snack for the kids to bring to school. You can flavour them any way you wish. Spicy (cumin, cayenne/sriracha, paprika), savoury (I love Red wine vinegar & salt to replace salt & vinegar crisps), or sweet with cinnamon and some stevia. So many options.
The shiitake bacon had everyone wowed at the presentation, and went fast after my demo was over. It even had me wowed after my first try. Even the kids and my husband ate it and were shocked. How could a mushroom be made to taste like bacon!!!?
Shiitake mushrooms are great compared to other mushrooms - they're meatier in texture, and have a slightly stronger flavour. So they're perfect for absorbing the flavours added to them. The sesame oil is what makes the flavour, so please don't exclude it from this recipe and swap it out for something else.
Instead of shiitake mushrooms, I've seen people use eggplant and coconut chips. Just give things a try, and see what you prefer.
I hope you give this recipe a try.
All of the elements can be used seperately to make totally different meals. So let your imagination run wild.
The pumpkin sauce - if you add less stock - is great as a thicker sauce for the base of pizzas, or as a dip with crackers. So make it in bulk like I do, and freeze in portions for a multitude of recipes in future. You can always add stock or water to thin it out later.
Let me know what you think
Pumpkin Pasta with Crispy Chickpeas and Shiitake Bacon
Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
(Makes approx. 1½ cups sauce)
3 cups diced Butternut Pumpkin (460g)
1 cup diced onion
1 tsp dried Mixed Herbs
2 ½ cups vegetable stock
½ tsp kala namak salt (optional)*
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp crushed garlic or 2 cloves garlic crushed
Peel, de-seed and dice the pumpkin.
Place the pumpkin and diced onion on a lined baking tray and spray with coconut oil
Sprinkle with the mixed herbs
Bake at 180C for 30mins, stirring and turning occasionally.
Transfer entire contents to a saucepan and add the veggie stock
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15mins.
Transfer to a high speed blender. Add the salt, nutritional yeast and garlic, and blend until smooth. Add more stock to your desired consistency
Pour over or stir through your pasta
*Kala Namak salt or Black salt is pink in colour and can be found in Indian Grocers. It has a pungent sulphuric egg smell.
**Unused portions can be frozen, thawed out and reheated as required
100g punnet fresh shiitake mushrooms sliced thinly
1-2 tsp olive or coconut oil (the more oil, the crispier the bacon)
1 tsp pure sesame oil
¼ tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
¾ tsp liquid smoke
½ tsp smoked paprika
Place all dressing ingredients in a ziplock bag and mix together.
Add the sliced mushrooms and close the bag.
Massage the ingredients in the bag until well covered.
Allow to marinate if possible for 30 minutes
Place the mushrooms on a lined baking tray, spaced apart
Bake at 180C for 20-30 mins turning occasionally to your desired crispiness
Allow to drain on some paper towel
Crumble over finished pasta
Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
1 x 400g can chickpeas
1 Tbsp Olive or coconut oil
¼ tsp salt
1-2 tsp dried spices of choice*
* Paprika, Cumin, Rosemary, or Allspice and Cinnamon are all good options
Rinse and drain the chickpeas
Place chickpeas on to a clean tea towel and rub gently to remove the skins
Place the chickpeas on a lined baking tray and drizzle with oil and sprinkle over the spices.
Stir around until well coated
Bake at 180C for 20-30 mins stirring every 10 mins until your desired crispiness.
Sprinkle over finished pasta
Zucchini and Mung Bean Pasta
1 medium zucchini (per person)
50g Edamame & Mung Bean Pasta (per person)
Spiralise the zucchini, and eat raw or saute in a pan with a spray of coconut oil for 2 minutes
Cook the Pasta as per packet directions, and drain.
Add the pasta and zucchini noodles back to the pan and stir through the pumpkin sauce.
Serve pasta immediately sprinkled with chopped parsley, the shiitake bacon and crispy chickpeas.