Maple-Pumpkin Pasta with Blue Cheese & Sage

Last Saturday, we awoke to a perfectly sunny (but crisp!) fall day, and I had a plan. It involved apple picking, hay rides, maple syrup, and lots and lots of pumpkins. In short, I was going to fit “fall” into this one free Saturday. We headed north, driving leisurely through New Hampshire country roads to our first stop, Parkers Maple Barn. The Sugar House has an adjoining restaurant, which serves breakfast all day. It is famous for pumpkin pancakes and maple glazed short ribs, which I knew would help Tommy temporarily forget that the rest of the day would entail apple picking and leaf peeping, not watching college football. Stomachs full and my bag bursting with souvenirs of maple syrup candy and a pumpkin cookbook, it was off to a nearby orchard.

We arrived at Windy Will Orchard ready to pick, but the early cold front had ended the apple picking season early. There was no time for disappointment however, as the shop was stocked with pre-picked-bags. Plus I had already run off to snap photos of the idyllic setting. We were surrounded by the colors of fall—a field of pumpkins, a little red barn, the turning leaves, a green John Deere and corn mazes.

I would have stayed all day. But, I knew the next stop would be worth leaving for. We set west, along 124 through Jaffrey. The houses overlooking Mount Monadnock had amazing views, and I exclaimed once or twice, “Stop the car!”, as an ideal photo opportunity whizzed by. Parked in a stranger’s driveway, I had to laugh when another car pulled up behind us. Apparently we were not the only uninhibited leaf peepers in search of the perfect shot.

Upon entering Keene, we followed the signs to park, and jumped on board the shuttle bus to downtown. A quick few minutes later, we stepped off and were greeted with pumpkins. But, not just any pumpkins. 29,762 carved and lit jack-o-lanterns (just short of Boston's world record of 30,128). The Keene Pumpkin Festival was in full swing and Main Street was lined everywhere you turned with the orange beauties. At either end, two sky-high displays watched over the festivities.

I was eager to explore, but a sign for pumpkin beer and an outdoor patio grabbed my attention (I never say no to dining al fresco, even if it is 40 degrees outside). We sat, bundled up, below twinkling lights and enjoyed an icy glass and antics of the eccentric bartender. Slightly warmed, we stepped back onto Main Street, following the beckons of street vendors. Spiced Cider? Yes, please! Zesty Peanuts? Of course! Caramel Apples? I love this place!

Hours later, our bellies full, we made our way back to the car. Day light dwindled as we headed home, but I was warm, filled with inspiration from the perfect autumn day.

Maple-Pumpkin Pasta with Blue Cheese & Sage
Inspired by pumpkins, maple syrup and Whole Loving . serves 4

1 lb tube pasta (penne, rigatoni, etc..)
2 T olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
1/4 c maple syrup
4 c cubed pumpkin
1/2 c vegetable broth
2 T chopped fresh sage
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 crumbled blue cheese
1/2 c toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and boil until tender. Drain, and set aside.

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, and add onion.
Sauté 6-8 minutes, until onion begins to brown. Add maple syrup, pumpkin, vegetable both, sage, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 25-30 minutes, until pumpkin is tender. Add cooked pasta, and toss until well combined. To serve, top with crumbled blue cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.


veggievixen said...

wow, so amazing! i don't think i've ever done anything with fresh pumpkin. squash, definitely, but not pumpkin. your pasta recipe sounds totally delicious. thanks for sharing it.

Michelle said...

Wonderful! This looks so good. We made your black bean and sweet potato quesadilla last night - it is now one of our favourites. Thank you for sharing your lovely recipes and photos. Michelle

melinda said...

the pictures are amazing!
i also have never made anything with pumpkin, well besides yummy pumpkin seeds.

Jane said...

Your fall day of inspiration looks like so much FUN. Pumpkin patches in October have always been a must for me, but the Keene Pumpkin Festival with 29,762 carved and lit jack-o-lanterns, that looks AMAZING!! Can't wait to try your Maple-Pumpkin Pasta.

christy said...

this recipe looks amazing!!! your pictures are wonderful too ... makes me wish i lived nearby ;)

Jennifer said...

GORGEOUS photos!!! I love pumpkin with pasta, your dish with the blue cheese sounds soooo good! I cant wait to try this!

Amanda Nicole said...

What a perfect day! And this recipe sounds divine :)

Mathyld / encore petite said...

Pastas with pumpkin are one of my favourite combinations ! I can't wait to add some blue cheese to that perfect duo :)
I love cheese !

And your photos are dreamy ...
x x x

jacqueline said...

Such a gorgeous day...and look at alll those wonderful pumkin! Okay this is another must try ~ pumkin pasta! It looks soo yummie...i could feel my saliva building up in my mouth. :) Hope you're having a wonderful weekend and love to you!

Dana said...

I went to college in Connecticut and my first New England fall nearly blew my socks off. It is more beautiful than anyone can successfully tell you. You have captured it so beautifully here in the photos and the prose. Great job.

vicki said...

Mmmm.....this recipe sounds amazing! My mouth is watering. lol. Hope you're doing well. Have a great week!

Cookie Cutter said...

These images are gorgeous! I need to get out of the city!

Nirvana said...

What gorgeous pictures! And the perfect recipe for fall!

Aran said...

gorgeous photos! i love fall!

Amy said...

I have to say that everything about this post was fascinating and inspirational....

Lauren Hewitt said...

I made this the other day. I have to say, one of the yummiest pastas I have ever made at home!! Maple syrup is not a common staple in Australia, but I happened to have some, and I used sweet potato instead of pumpkin, because it's what I had, and I LOVE sweet potato! I also used feta, because thats what I had.

Soooo delicious!! the combination of flavours, and the hint of cinamon, devine! Not something you would ususally see here. I will definitely be making this again, thank you!

Hannah JV said...

I just made this!


Thanks heaps!

Hannah JV from New Zealand

Pretty Neat Designs said...

Gorgeous photos and this recipe sounds amazing! Can't wait to try it.

fresh365 said...

Lauren- So glad you were able to track down the maple syrup!
Hannah- I love seeing your photo!

eatme_delicious said...

That pumpkin festival looks so awesome! And I love the dish you were inspired to make by it!

parallel-botany said...

I ♥♥♥ New England. Your photos are gorgeous!

I really want to try this recipe, it has a lot of my favorite ingredients.

Obmawiamy said...

Oh I lobve pasta !!!
I eats pasta with vegetables, cheese, and butter

Kate Gallagher said...

I must try this!! I love the combination... :)

linda said...

yyesss!!!! I must try it!!! I love pumpkin and wowwww. It will be amating!