Pumpkin cacio e pepe is a fall twist on the classic pasta recipe. Pumpkin purée, parmesan, pecorino, cracked black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg come together to make the most delicious sauce for this easy pasta dish!
Cacio e pepe is a classic Italian pasta dish that’s as easy to make as it is to eat. Since it’s fall I thought it’d be fun to add some pumpkin purée to the recipe. The result was absolutely delicious!
Pumpkin tends to be used in sweet recipes more than savory. I’m not going to lie, I love the sweet baked goods you can make with a can of pumpkin purée, especially these creamy pumpkin pie bars.
However, I really enjoy using it in savory recipes. It add a wonderful, mild squash flavor to whatever you’re making and the perfect hue of orange for fall. This pumpkin cacio e pepe is must make for both pumpkin and pasta lovers!
What Is Cacio e Pepe?
Cacio e Pepe literally translates to cheese and pepper. It’s a classic pasta dish that originated in Rome and is made up of spaghetti, Pecorino Romano, and black pepper.
Pasta water is what helps thicken and create a sauce for this minimalist pasta dish. The Pecorino Romano is a salty sheeps milk cheese which gives the pasta more flavor than you might expect. While spaghetti is the traditional pasta that is used, bucatini is a great alternative and what I used in my recipe for pumpkin cacio e pepe.
Ingredients For Pumpkin Cacio e Pepe
- pumpkin purée
- freshly cracked black pepper
- parmesan cheese
- romano cheese
How To Make Pumpkin Cacio e Pepe
Start by cooking the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Be sure to salt the pasta water well as you’ll be reserving some of it to use for the sauce. Cook the pasta just until al dente or a minute less since it will continue to cook in the sauce.
While the pasta is cooking melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the grated garlic to the butter and sauté just until it’s fragrant. Whisk in the pumpkin purée, nutmeg, a pinch of salt and all of the cracked black pepper.
Scoop out about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of the pasta water using a glass measuring cup or ladle. Slowly pour it in with the pumpkin mixture whisking it as you pour. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
At this point drain the pasta or what I prefer to do, use tongs to remove the pasta from the pot and into the pan with the pumpkin sauce. Use tongs to toss the pasta in with the sauce until it’s completely coated.
Add the shredded parmesan and pecorino in with the pasta and toss it around until the cheese is melted and you have a sauce. If the sauce is a little too thick, add in additional pasta water until it’s the consistency you like.
Pumpkin Cacio e Pepe Variations
Add a protein – This would be delicious with cooked chicken or you could add some crispy bacon or pancetta to it.
Make it spicy – Black pepper has some spice to it, but if you want an extra punch of heat add in a big pinch of red pepper flakes or even a teaspoon or so of Calabrian chili paste.
Make it gluten-free – Simply sub the bucatini with your favorite brand of gluten-free pasta.
Use butternut squash – If you want to substitute the pumpkin in this recipe, try using butternut squash purée instead.
More Fall Pasta Recipes
- Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts Pasta
- Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Pesto Pasta
- Bacon, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash Pasta
- Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Pesto Pasta
- Chicken Pot Pie Pasta
- 12 ounces bucatini
- 1 1/2 cups pasta water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in the bucatini. Cook the pasta just until al dente or a minute less. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the butter and when it's melted add in the garlic. Sauté just until the garlic is fragrant and then add in the pumpkin purée, black pepper, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until incorporated and then slowly pour in the pasta water, whisking until the sauce is smooth.
- Add the pasta into the skillet and toss to coat it in the sauce. Add in the cheese and continue to toss the pasta until the cheese is melted into the sauce. If your sauce looks too thick, pour in additional pasta water and toss until incorporated.
- Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve the pasta topped with Parmesan or Pecorino shavings if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 513Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 529mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 19g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.