Perfect Pumpkin Pasta Bar

The Novice Gardener recently posted an amazing, mouth watering recipe – and then another – for preparing pumpkin. Then, My Favourite Pastime blogged about a new, creative spin on pesto. Somehow, the inspiration for this pasta dish came from two places – and married into a soulful, satisfying pasta meal.DSC_1730
Oh me. Oh my. My husband and I adore pasta. It is a passion derived from our days as long-distance runners… way back in “the day”  we were svelte, speedy. We didn’t push a three- and one-year-old in a double stroller! We ran like gazelles.

DSC_1727Past are the days of carbohydrate-loading before Sunday long-runs and races. Here are the days of walks to the park, eighty hour work weeks and realizing our metabolisms are not what they once were. Still, we exercise as much as we can – and try to use more portion-control than we did a decade or two ago!

DSC_1731Without question, Abba and Ima (hubby and me!) still take great pleasure in well-prepared, decadent pasta meals. These days, we incorporate fresh, seasonal produce; fine, aged artisan cheese; savory, nutritious seeds or nuts and fantastic tasting, bright, bold pesto. You only live once, I will not live without pasta.

DSC_1729Abba loves fresh fish – and goes “GA-GA!” for a pasta bar – as well as vegetables in any shape or form. He has had many long days and nights at the hospital lately. He works at the only Level I Trauma Center in our state, and the physicians see the worst of the worst – and work hard as H-Double-Hockey-Stick to give the best care possible. So, to give Abba a nutritional – and psychological boost – I set-up a colorful, textually juxtaposed, healthy and flavorful pasta bar!

DSC_1728Crispy seeds, al dente pasta, herb-filled pesto, rich salmon, savory cheese, soft pumpkin: a win-win for us both! Leftovers fare for a luscious lunch the next day.


This recipe utilizes quite a few previous Curls and Carrots recipes, so check the links below for tips and tricks! Well, what are we waiting for? Into the kitchen we stroll! With a glass of red wine, of course. Let’s get cooking!

DSC_1697First, cut up your pumpkin into cubes and reserve your seeds.


Roast your crisp, nutty seeds in a 400°F (204°C) oven until golden, about ten to fifteen minutes.

DSC_1713The salmon roasts at the same temperature – and for an equal amount of time (ten minutes) – as the pumpkin and seeds.

DSC_1714 Simply drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on top of the fish.

Roast the salmon for about ten minutes – at the same times as the pumpkin  seeds. The seafood will emerge from the oven exquisitely cooked.


Roast the cubed pumpkin with a little olive oil, salt and pepper at the same time as the rest of the meal, also at 400°F.

Cook the squash to velvety, tender succulence in about 30 minutes.


Roasted pumpkin is creamy and crunchy – salty and sweet – the best of all worlds.


Reserve your pumpkin for later use, along with your salmon and seeds.


Boil well-salted water with a touch of oil. Cook organic, whole wheat penne for about fifteen minutes, to al dente.


Whole grain pasta takes longer regular varieties to cook – and is worth the wait.

Take care to reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water after the pasta has cooked.


Whole wheat, organic semolina pasta from Italy is nutty, toothsome and savory.

Toss pasta with a tad of garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking.


Grate the sharpest, strongest, hardest Italian cheese that you have on hand. I chose a robust, pungent and mature Italian goat variety.


Prepare arugula walnut pesto, a fabulous recipe from Liz of My Favorite Pastime. It is a spicy, garlicy, oh-so-tasty treat! Delicious.

DSC_1720Dilute 1/2 cup of Liz’s arugula walnut pesto with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, until the desired consistency is reached.

The pesto should be thin enough to drizzle over the pasta – but not too diluted.


Thank you for visiting Curls and Carrots, friends. Enjoy! L’chayim!



Perfect Pumpkin Pasta Bar

A fantastic, fresh and fun-filled family meal – and elegant enough for company.


  • 1 small pumpkin pie pumpkin, cubed (including skin) and seeds reserved
  • 8 ounces whole wheat, organic semolina penne pasta, cooked to al dente in salted water
  • 1/2 cup of pasta water
  • 1/2 cup pesto, prepared or store-bought
  • 2 to 4, 4 ounce salmon fillets or steaks
  • Grated cheese, such as parmigiano reggiano, pecorino romano, or any mature, hard Italian cheese
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds, reserved from the pumpkin pie pumpkin
  • garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400°F or 204°C.
  • Roast reserved, cleaned pumpkin seeds on a try with salt, pepper and a touch of garlic-infused olive oil. Cook for ten minutes.
  • On separate cooking sheets or trays, toss the pumpkin cubes and salmon fillets in adequate amounts of garlic-infused olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Roast the salmon for ten minutes, until it flakes with a fork. Roast the pumpkin for 30-45 minutes, until golden and tender.
  • Cook your pasta to al dente in salted water, according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid after the pasta has finished cooking. Drain pasta.
  • Toss pasta in a small amount of garlic-infused olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Mix 1/2 cup of pesto with 1/4-1/2 cup of reserved pasta water, just until thin but not too diluted – just runny enough to drizzle over hot pasta.
  • Set up your pasta bar: pasta, salmon, pesto, cheese and pumpkin. Build your plate as you wish – and enjoy! Salud!


©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.



33 thoughts on “Perfect Pumpkin Pasta Bar

    1. Angie – Wow, thank you you so much for your heartfelt and generous comments – and, of course, for your inspiration! I am so grateful for your culinary (and gardening!) encouragement and vigor!. Have a great day. Warmly, Shanna

  1. Oh-Shanna!! This looks delicious!!! And with great colors!
    I also totally agree with you about pasta! What would life be without it!

    1. Anna, Well, thank you SO much for your extremely generous comments and optimistic, encouraging words. I am elated that you stopped by. A life without pasta?! NO, THANK YOU!
      😉 Have a lovely day – and be well, Anna. Warmly – Shanna

      1. Shanna, I had to change my name at FB because we have a letter here that you dont have!
        So now I Think it works! ( cant find you again…..)
        Im at intefangor Detdet!
        I’ll mail you as well!
        Have a great wedenesday!

    1. WELL, thank you, Ada. I daresay that I have no issue combing pesto, veg and pasta – three of my many culinary loves. I am SO glad that you visited. You are one of Curls and Carrot’s most prized guests. Have a great night – and I am looking forward to all of the fun at More Food, Please. Take good care! xx Shanna

  2. oo ooo oooo…that does look perfect! I never would have thought to put pumpkin seeds on salmon, but it seems a great fit. My but you eat well 🙂

  3. Shanna… you are so creative! Everything looks so delicious, and above all, healthy! That’s something I noticed about your cooking and baking, it’s all so healthy! Where does the Nutella fit in? 😉

  4. This looks so delicious and combines some of my favorites! I make many kinds of pesto and can’t get enough of it! When I do eat pasta it must have fiber, so either whole wheat or white wheat for us. I also usually throw in the protein too,chicken or seafood. So nice to have all food groups in one dish.

    1. Oh, I completely agree with each your statements, Gretchen. I especially concur that pesto is fabulous – and a pasta with fiber is healthful and tasty. Surprisingly, an organic pasta made from 100% semolina flour is high in fiber and protein, too. Who knew? I look forward to reading your delicious pasta recipe. Thank you for your kind words and your visit! Be well, Shanna

  5. “…realizing our metabolisms are not what they once were… it’s true! I’m always been a pasta-lover, but i think it’s right to make small portion of it .. from now on!
    In Northern Italy we don’t use so much goat cheese, but cow cheese, and especially parmigiano reggiano-grana padano in Emilia-Romagna where I live. The taste is robust, like you said. I must send you a pack with grana cheese 🙂

    1. Hi, Cris! Grano padano cheese is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES. I adore the strong flavor… the sharpness.. those little bits of crystallization from the long maturation process. Here, we have many grano padanos that are made with sheep. I have never tried the cow variety. Of course, a real, true parmisiano reggiano – fresh off a newly cracked wheel – there is nothing butter in the world. Buttery, salty, sweet, nutty…. YUM. Have a great day! You make me hungry, chica! You are lucky to have such great cheese! Best, Shanna

      1. Me too i love Grana Padano e Parmigiano Reggiano the most! Really great cheese.. no no Shannamust send you the cow quality, it has nothing in common with sheep quality, i think. You love the cheese, don’t you? ahah 🙂

      2. Oh, Cris. Do I love cheese? No, more. I am wed to cheese. My poor husband – I would I choose him or a fine, Italian cheese if forced? 😉 Fromage. Queso. Cheese by any name is sweet to me. I will look out for your prized Grano Padano. I liked how you used the Italian “e,” much like the Spanish “y.” Be well! – Shanna

      3. Hello!Ooh, poor husband, really? I’ve already imagined that you really love cheese, cause your recipes include also different varieties of cheese, and in your answers for a Blog Award i can remember you said that your best work was testing cheeses all over the world.Interesting! Many years ago i was employee in a import-export society which traded cheeses and other typical italian products also in USA, it was interesting! Have a good day!

    1. Hi, Martine. Thank you for your kind and generous comments. I appreciate that you took the time to leave a sweet note! Yes, I love pesto in any form! Herbs, garlic and olive oil: what’s not to adore? I have yet to meet a homemade pesto that I did not like. Have a lovely evening! Warmly, Shanna

  6. You only live once, I will not live without pasta. – I totally agree! Here in the Papaya Pieces household we’ve also gone a bit pumpkin mad 🙂 🙂

    1. Oh, Sofia. A life without pasta is one I will not lead. Of course, fresh pasta is idea. If only I had access to that as you do! Lucky chica! As for being pumpkin crazed, it is now Pumpkin and Carrots around here. Pumpkin-Chocolate muffins with ganache sitting on our counter in all of their cocoa-cucurbita glory. Be well, amiga. – Shanna

    1. Hi, Sheryl,
      Thank you for “visiting” Curls and Carrots. Your kind and complimentary words are encouraging and much appreciated. I am elated to hear that you are finding inspiration in the blog, as I have discovered much motivation to cook and try new things from Mama’s Gotta Bake. Have a lovely weekend – and be well.

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