Smoky Pumpkin Sauce

A photo of a yellow cake with coconut topping, served on a plate with a fork.
Garganelli pasta with Smoky Pumpkin Sauce, from Pasta Every Day by Meryl Feinstein.

This recipe for Smoky Pumpkin Sauce appears in Pasta Every Day by Meryl Feinstein.

Here’s a sauce to make all autumn long, especially when you have that last bit
of pumpkin purée left over from a holiday pie. Don’t be fooled, though: this isn’t
giving off any pumpkin spice latte vibes. It’s smoky, spicy, and plenty savory.


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  • 4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, divided
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1¼ cups (280 grams) pumpkin purée
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) vegetable stock
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
  • ¾ ounce (20 grams) finely grated
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano

Make it vegan: Swap the cream for an unflavored dairy-free alternative like oat milk; swap the Parmigiano-Reggiano for a vegetarian version or nutritional yeast, or omit it entirely.

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add
the sage and fry, shaking the pan often, until darkened and crisp, about 2
minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.

In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons
butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring
constantly, 30 seconds.

Stir in the pumpkin, stock, smoked paprika, chili powder, chipotle powder,
a generous grating of nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Simmer the sauce until
slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the cream and
simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste and turn off the

To serve: Cook your pasta of choice to your liking. When it’s almost ready,
reheat the sauce over medium. Transfer the pasta directly to the sauce (or
drain it first and reserve 1 cup (240 ml) pasta cooking water) and toss until
the pasta is well coated. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Loosen with
cooking water as needed and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Divide the pasta among bowls and serve topped with the fried sage.

This recipe was discussed on an edition of Central Time‘s Food Friday. Listen to the episode here.

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