Fall in love with the cozy vibes of this Pumpkin Feta Pasta! Dive into a bowl of creamy pumpkin goodness, perfectly complemented by the creamy richness of feta cheese. Enjoy with the pasta of your choice on a cool, cozy evening.Jump to Recipe
This pasta is total comfort food. Think of it as a delicious pumpkin mac and cheese because that's essentially what it is. In the fall, I see pumpkin most used in sweet baked goods, or creamy smooth soups. I don't see very many savory pumpkin recipes nor have I tried to incorporate pumpkin to savory dishes. I also don't see pumpkin used much in pasta dishes.
This fall I wanted to do something different and incorporate pumpkin puree with feta cheese. The pasta sauce is savory, slightly smoky, and is made with spinach and red bell pepper for color and flavor. It comes together so quickly in one skillet making it the perfect dinner for a busy weeknight.
Reasons You'll Love This Pumpkin Feta Pasta
Rich and Creamy Flavor: Pumpkin feta pasta is incredibly rich and creamy from the feta cheese and pumpkin that coats the pasta. The sauce is simmered with various spices resulting in a savory and slightly smoky dish everyone will love.
Seasonal Delight: This pasta dish gives so many fall vibes with the incorporation of pumpkin, making it a perfect seasonal delight that brings warmth and coziness to your dinner table.
Quick and Easy Preparation: While the pasta is cooking, the pumpkin feta sauce can be made in no time on the skillet. It's quick and easy to make, you don't need to be an expert in the kitchen to make this. It's perfect for busy days when you crave a satisfying and flavorful meal without spending too much time in the kitchen. The best part about this recipe is how easy it is to meal prep. The flavors are just as delicious the next day.
Versatile Dish: This pasta dish is extremely customizable. Simply make this creamy pumpkin pasta your own by adding additional ingredients you already have on hand. This can be the protein of your choice, or other veggies that would pair well. We will get more into these later!
Nutrient-Rich Ingredients: Pumpkin is packed with vitamins and fiber, making this pasta dish a flavorful way to incorporate beneficial nutrients into your diet. It's also a great way to boost your vitamin c during cold and flu season.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Olive oil - I used extra virgin olive oil which provides great flavor. This is used to sauté the garlic and bell pepper before the delicious sauce comes together. Try using a flavored olive oil to enhance the flavor of the dish even more.
Garlic - Fresh garlic cloves should be used to make the sauce taste just right. Garlic powder can be used but it won't have the same depth. I find that fresh cloves stand out more than pre-minced.
Red bell pepper - For color and added freshness. You can use any color bell pepper you want. Try this with yellow, orange, or green instead.
Pumpkin puree - You'll need plain pure pumpkin puree be sure to check the ingredients and make sure there's no added sugar or spices.
Chicken broth - This gives a good depth to the sauce and also makes it looser and not so thick. Many recipes suggest using pasta water but I find that chicken broth takes it to another level.
Salt and pepper to taste - Meant to enhance the other ingredients. Go easy on the salt since feta cheese and chicken broth are both very salty ingredients. You don't want to over do it.
Chili powder - Adds an aromatic yet mild heat. If you're looking for more heat feel free to add some chili flakes to the sauce.
Smoked paprika - Gives the sauce a wonderful smoky flavor. Not a lot is used so it won't be overwhelming.
Feta cheese - To give the sauce a cheesy and creamy flavor. Feta is made from sheep, goat, and cows milk. The cheese you use is your personal preference. You can use a block of feta or crumbled feta. If using a block, I recommend chopping into smaller pieces before adding to the sauce so it melts more evenly.
Spinach - For added color and nutrition. It's also a great way incorporate veggies into your sauce.
Pasta - Choose any pasta of your choice. You'll need to cook pasta according to the package instructions before it's used in this recipe. Any pasta would be great in this sauce. You only need 8oz for this recipe. Try even using leftover pasta if you have any on hand.
How Pumpkin Feta Pasta Is Made
Step 1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Once heated add garlic and red bell pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for around 3 minutes or until the bell peppers have started to become more tender.
Step 2. Add pumpkin puree and chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, chili powder, and smoked paprika.
Step 3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until the sauce is reduced to your desired thickness.
Step 4. Fold in the feta cheese and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Step 5. Stir in the spinach and stir until wilted. About 1-2 minutes.
Step 6. Fold in cooked pasta and top with additional feta cheese. Serve immediately.
Tips For The Best Results
Choose Your Favorite Pasta: While you can choose any pasta you currently have on hand, there are some that work better than others. Opt for pasta shapes that can hold and capture the creamy pumpkin sauce. Rigatoni, penne, or fettuccine work well, allowing the sauce to cling to the pasta for a satisfying bite.
Use Fresh Pumpkin or Canned Puree: While canned pumpkin puree is convenient, using fresh pumpkin adds a unique touch. Roast or steam fresh pumpkin on a baking tray and puree it for a rich, homemade flavor.
Choose Quality Feta: Invest in good-quality feta cheese for the best taste. Consider varieties like Greek feta for an authentic and robust flavor.
Don't Overcook the Pasta: Cook the pasta al dente, as it will continue to cook slightly when combined with the sauce. Overcooked pasta can become mushy when mixed with a creamy sauce.
Different Ways to Make Pumpkin Feta Pasta
Pumpkin and Sage Brown Butter: Add a touch of elegance by incorporating a sage-infused brown butter sauce. Sauté fresh sage in butter until it becomes fragrant and slightly crispy. Drizzle this over the pumpkin feta pasta for a burst of rich, nutty flavor.
Pumpkin, Bacon, and Pecans: Introduce a savory crunch to the delicious pasta by incorporating crispy bacon bits and toasted pecans. The smokiness of bacon complements the sweet pumpkin, while pecans add a delightful texture contrast.
Pumpkin, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts: Swap out feta for goat cheese to create a creamier texture. Top the dish with toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch, adding complexity to the flavor profile.
Pumpkin and Gorgonzola: A delicious way to make this dish is to substitute feta with Gorgonzola for a bolder, more pungent flavor. The creamy Gorgonzola pairs well with the sweetness of the pumpkin, creating a robust and satisfying dish.
Pumpkin and Italian Sausage: Brown some crumbled Italian sausage and stir it into the pumpkin sauce for a heartier and more protein-packed variation. The savory sausage complements the creamy pumpkin beautifully.
Pumpkin, Shrimp, and Lemon Zest: Introduce a touch of seafood by adding sautéed shrimp to the pumpkin feta pasta. Finish the dish with a sprinkle of fresh lemon zest for a burst of citrusy brightness.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you store pumpkin feta pasta?
To store pumpkin feta pasta, allow it to cool to room temperature after cooking. Once cooled, transfer the pasta to airtight containers. Refrigerate the pasta and for up to 3-4 days. I don't recommend storing the pumpkin feta sauce with the pasta because the texture of the pasta may turn mushy when it gets thawed. If you're interested in long term storage, I recommend storing the pumpkin feta sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw the sauce overnight before using over pasta.
Is this gluten free?
Whether this recipe is gluten free or not is dependent on the type of pasta you use. If you have gluten restrictions I recommend using a gluten free pasta. All other ingredients are naturally gluten free making it the perfect meal for those who are looking for a delicious recipe without gluten.
Can I use pumpkin chunks instead of puree?
You can absolutely use chunks of pumpkin instead of a puree. I would consider this variety a roasted pumpkin feta pasta recipe. Keep in mind the texture will be different than what's shown in the picture. To make this add pumpkin chunks, garlic, red bell pepper, feta, 1/2 cup chicken broth, chili powder, and smoked paprika to a baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until the feta has softened.
Remove baking dish from the oven and stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Fold in the baby spinach and pasta. Stir well until the spinach has wilted and the pasta is coated in the feta cheese sauce. Serve the baked feta pasta immediately.
What are different varieties of pumpkin that can be used in this recipe?
Sugar Pumpkin: Also known as pie pumpkins, these are small, sweet pumpkins with smooth, fine-grained flesh. They are excellent for making homemade pumpkin puree and can impart a sweet and nutty flavor to your pasta dish.
Butternut Squash: Although technically not a pumpkin, butternut squash is often used interchangeably in recipes. It has a sweet and slightly nutty taste with smooth, orange flesh. Roasting or pureeing butternut squash can be a delicious alternative in pumpkin feta pasta.
Acorn Squash: Acorn squash has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. Its unique shape and dark green skin can add visual appeal to your dish. Roast or steam acorn squash before incorporating it into your pasta.
Cinderella Pumpkin: Known for its vibrant, reddish-orange color and flattened shape, Cinderella pumpkin has a sweet and tender flesh. It can be roasted and pureed to create a smooth sauce for your pasta.
What other proteins can be incorporated into this recipe?
Grilled Chicken: Grilled chicken adds a lean and savory protein to the dish. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and dried herbs before incorporating into the sauce.
Italian Sausage: Crumbled or sliced Italian sausage brings a robust and flavorful protein to the pasta. Choose mild or spicy sausage based on your preference.
Shrimp: Sautéed or grilled shrimp can introduce a delightful seafood element to the dish. The sweet and slightly briny flavor of shrimp pairs well with the creamy pumpkin sauce.
Bacon: Crispy bacon adds a smoky and salty element to the pasta, enhancing the overall flavor profile. Consider crumbling bacon on top just before serving. Instead of sautéing garlic in olive oil, substitute olive oil for bacon grease instead. This will give a smoky flavor all throughout the sauce.
Ground Turkey: Ground turkey is a lean and versatile protein option that can be sautéed and mixed into the pumpkin sauce. Season it with herbs and spices for added depth.
Tofu or Tempeh: For a vegetarian or vegan option, consider adding cubed and sautéed tofu or tempeh. These plant-based proteins absorb the flavors of the sauce and add a hearty texture.
Salmon: Flake cooked salmon into the pasta for a rich and omega-3 fatty acid-packed protein. Baked or grilled salmon can add a luxurious touch to the dish.
More Pasta Recipes You'll Love
Creamy Pumpkin Feta Pasta
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup feta cheese
- 2 handfuls spinach
- 8 oz pasta cooked according to package directions
- Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Once heated add garlic and red bell pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for around 3 minutes or until the bell peppers have started to become more tender.
- Add pumpkin puree and chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, chili powder, and smoked paprika.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until the sauce is reduced to your desired thickness.
- Fold in the feta cheese and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach and stir until wilted. About 1-2 minutes.
- Fold in cooked pasta and top with additional feta cheese. Serve immediately.