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Browned Butter Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

Savory pumpkin recipes are unexpected, but my pumpkin obsession runs deep and I can't get enough, so this Browned Butter Pumpkin Pasta Sauce recipe is a harvest-season staple at my house. Something about pumpkin warms the soul and sets the mood for the nostalgia of Fall traditions. Pumpkins are not only naturally sweet but have fantastic health benefits. Like carrots, pumpkins improve your vision and are full of vitamin C. Plus—if you make a pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving season, you are likely to be left with some pumpkin puree, and this is the perfect recipe to use what's left!

This Browned Butter Pumpkin Pasta Sauce recipe is super easy! It's addictive and if you are a sauce fanatic, this would be delicious served at Thanksgiving as a dip for a loaf of French bread. This recipe was a hit at my recent appearance on Good Things Utah this past October. The browned butter is the most crucial part of the recipe. Browned butter means a more complex, nutty flavor, and is how I start some of my most beloved recipes, essentially you are just cooking down the butter and looking for brown flakes at the bottom of the pan. For this pasta sauce recipe, I recommend having all your ingredients prepped ahead of time so you can continue stirring and composing your sauce while avoiding burning the butter. I prefer a stainless steel pan as it's easier to see the browned butter forming, but a cast iron pan also works. Just follow your nose for those nutty notes!

First, add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and fresh sprigs of Thyme.

Be mindful to keep the heat at the medium setting and stir regularly watching to make sure the butter doesn't burn. If your herbs start to pop, turn the temp down. While you are browning the butter, you can start your noodles by bringing a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, setting aside 1 cup of pasta water for later.

Once you smell a toasty, nutty flavor and see some brown flakes forming, it's time to make the Béchamel sauce. Béchamel is the foundation of most soups but is slightly different from a typical roux because you need more butter to allow the extra simmering time required to create that lovely browned butter flavor.

Start by removing your herb sprig, sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of flour, and stir. I use a whisk to ensure the flour fully combines. The sauce will immediately thicken. Next, slowly add in a few tablespoons of milk as you continue to stir. Now add in 1 cup of pumpkin purée and continue to stir.

Continue adding the milk slowly as the sauce changes from a thick paste to more of a sauce consistency. The sauce will need to come up to a boil and then simmer so that the flour flavor cooks off. As the sauce comes to a boil, stir in 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and add a bit of your reserved pasta water if the sauce needs to be thinned down. Let simmer for a few minutes. And, Voila! A delicious, Fall-inspired browned butter pumpkin pasta sauce. And honestly, there is so much you can do to customize this dish to your taste preference. I serve it over al dente bronze-cut noodles, but you honestly could serve this over chicken breast with veg, or spice up if you like a little heat. I also love to add a little parmesan cheese. You can't go wrong with this browned butter pumpkin pasta sauce!

This recipe taught you a little something about how I like to cook, almost every kitchen scrap can be saved and repurposed into something delicious! Keep your pumpkin puree! And experiment with it. Adding a touch to your tomato pasta sauce is more delightful than you might expect, cutting through the acidity and adding a touch of wholesome goodness. Thanks for checking out this recipe. And be sure to tag @magpiesweetsandeats in your creations.

Makes 3-4 servings


4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 sprigs fresh thyme

3 Tablespoons all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup pumpkin purée

2 cups milk

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage

½ pound pasta of choice

Salt and Pepper to taste


Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, setting aside 1 cup of pasta water for later.

While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Start by adding the butter to a medium skillet, and turn the heat to medium.

After the butter has melted add the thyme to the pan. Continue to cook melted butter, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter has turned a golden brown color.

Next, add the flour and stir with a whisk until the butter as absorbed all the flour. Add nutmeg and pumpkin purée, stirring to combine. Add the milk slowly, a one-quarter cup at a time, while constantly whisking, bringing the mixture to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the noodles to the pasta sauce and stir to coat. Pour in the reserved pasta water as needed to thin the sauce. Serve with chopped sage.

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