Luscious Pumpkin and Pancetta Pasta Bake


“A luscious pumpkin and pancetta pasta bake made with a creamy béchamel sauce, topped off with a melted cheddar and nutmeg crust.”

Pumpkin and Pancetta Pasta Bake

This pasta bake is a family dinner table winner. Sweet roasted pumpkin, creamy cheesy béchamel sauce, savoury fried pancetta all combined with rigatoni and finished off with a topping of even more cheese! 

All these elements mingle perfectly to hit your taste buds with that satisfying bite. What more could you ask for. I promise, by the time you finish your plate, you’ll be in pasta heaven!


Ingredients

  • 450g dry rigatoni pasta

roasted pumpkin

  • 500g Jarrahdale pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder 
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil

béchamel sauce

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 600ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes 
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated

frying the pancetta

  • 125g pancetta, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil

pasta bake topping

  • 75g mature cheddar, grated
  • grated nutmeg, a pinch

(* 1 Tsp = 5ml, 1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml)


How to make Pumpkin and Pancetta Pasta Bake

Roasting the Pumpkin

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6.

2. Onto a parchment lined baking tray, lay the chunks of pumpkin and sprinkle nutmeg, salt, black pepper powder and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Coat the pumpkin pieces evenly and spread them across the baking tray leaving gaps between pieces.

3. Roast the pumpkin pieces for 35-40 minutes or until the pumpkin is completely tender and develops a slight char on its edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.


Making the Béchamel Sauce

  1. 1. Heat butter in a sauce pot over a medium flame. Once the butter has melted add plain flour and cook the flour for about 1-2 minutes.

2. Next add the cold milk to the roux (the butter and flour mix) and whisk vigorously until the sauce begins to thicken.


3. The sauce is done when it’s just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and has a smooth and velvety consistency.


4. Then add the nutmeg, sea salt flakes and grated mature cheddar. Stir the sauce for 30 seconds or until the cheddar has dissolved into the sauce. Set the béchamel sauce aside.


Frying the Pancetta

  1. 1. In a frying pan add 1 tsp of olive oil and diced pancetta and fry for 5-7 minutes over a medium flame. Once the pancetta has turned crispy drain it over some kitchen towel and set aside.

Assembling the Pasta Bake

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6.

2. Pour enough water into a heavy bottomed pot and set over a medium heat. Once the water begins to simmer add the rigatoni and cook for about 10-12 minutes until the pasta becomes al dente. Drain the pasta.

3. In a large vessel, add the cooked pasta along with the béchamel sauce, chunks of roasted pumpkin and the fried pancetta. Combine everything well, ensuring the pasta is coated evenly.

4. Transfer the contents into an oven proof dish, ensuring the chunks of roasted pumpkin are evenly distributed. Finally sprinkle mature cheddar and nutmeg on top and bake for 15-20 minutes until a golden brown crust has developed.


Tips on making a comforting bowl of pasta

Roasting the pumpkin pieces: If the baking tray is becoming too crowded, use a second baking tray. A crowded baking tray will cause the pumpkin pieces to steam rather than roast, and the pumpkin won’t develop that lovely roasted charred flavour you’re looking for.

The béchamel sauce: Whisking in the cold milk vigorously at the beginning will ensure that the milk and roux are well incorporated before the sauce thickens.

Cooking the pasta: As the pasta bake is going in the oven for 15-20 minutes, the pasta will get cooked even further. So you’re not left with mushy pasta, I recommend that you boil the pasta till it’s al dente. The easiest way to tell if you’ve reached this point is to carefully take one single pasta and bite into it. The texture you’re looking for is cooked but still a little chalky. 

Vegetarian variation: If you like the sound of this recipe but want to make it vegetarian, then go ahead. This pasta bake is equally delicious without the pancetta.

Gluten-free variation: To make this gluten free substitute the all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour and when making the breadcrumbs use a gluten-free bread also.


What pumpkin should I use?

Pumpkin simply refers to several types of winter squash. I would recommend you use any type of edible pumpkin or butternut squash. The variety I’ve used in making this recipe is called Jarrahdale. 

It has a blue-green skin and a mild, slightly sweet, almost fruity, golden-yellow flesh that’s highly aromatic. It is great for roasting and making soups. 

Though here are some other edible squash/pumpkin options you could try out also:

  • Acorn Squash 
  • Turban Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Fairytale Pumpkin 
  • Cinderella
  • Speckled Hound

Similar dishes to try

Looking for more comforting and heart warming dishes? Why not check out some of these other recipes!

Sambar – Lentil & Vegetable Curry

Roasted Pumpkin Curry Soup

Tasty Vegan Chili

Comforting Winter Vegetable Curry

Light Indian Lamb Stew


Storing Suggestions

You can refrigerate your Pumpkin and Pancetta Pasta Bake in an airtight container and it will keep well for 3 to 5 days. When reheating, preheat the oven at 180 ºC and cook the pasta bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta bake has warmed sufficiently.

For a longer storing period, you can freeze the pasta bake in an airtight container for about 1 to 2 months, however it will remain safe beyond that time. Allow the pasta bake to defrost completely before following the reheating method above. 


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Pumpkin and Pancetta Pasta Bake

Luscious Pumpkin and Pancetta Pasta Bake

A luscious pumpkin and pancetta pasta bake made with a creamy béchamel sauce, topped off with a melted cheddar and nutmeg crust.
AuthorGeorge Alexander
PREP TIME20 minutes
COOK TIME50 minutes
TOTAL TIME1 hour 10 minutes
Servings6 (servings)
CourseMain Course
CuisineItalian
KeywordCreamy Pasta Bake Pancetta Pasta Pasta Bake
Calories571 kcal

Ingredients

  • 400 g dry rigatoni pasta

ROASTED PUMPKIN

  • 500 g jarrahdale pumpkin (peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder 
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  • 30 g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 600 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 100 g mature cheddar (grated)

FRYING THE PANCETTA

  • 125 g pancetta (diced)
  • 1 tsp olive oil

PASTA BAKE TOPPING

  • 75 g mature cheddar (grated)
  • grated nutmeg (a pinch)

Instructions

ROASTING THE PUMPKIN

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6.
  • Onto a parchment lined baking tray, lay the chunks of pumpkin and sprinkle nutmeg, salt, black pepper powder and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Coat the pumpkin pieces evenly and spread them across the baking tray leaving gaps between pieces.
  • Roast the pumpkin pieces for 35-40 minutes or until the pumpkin is completely tender and develops a slight char on its edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.

MAKING THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  • Heat butter in a sauce pot over a medium flame. Once the butter has melted add plain flour and cook the flour for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Next add the cold milk to the roux (the butter and flour mix) and whisk vigorously until the sauce begins to thicken. The sauce is done when it’s just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and has a smooth and velvety consistency.
  • Then add the nutmeg, sea salt flakes and grated mature cheddar. Stir the sauce for 30 seconds or until the cheddar has dissolved into the sauce. Set the béchamel sauce aside.

FRYING THE PANCETTA

  • In a frying pan add 1 tsp of olive oil and diced pancetta and fry for 5-7 minutes over a medium flame. Once the pancetta has turned crispy drain it over some kitchen towel and set aside.

ASSEMBLING THE PASTA BAKE

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas Mark 6.
  • Pour enough water into a heavy bottomed pot and set over a medium heat. Once the water begins to simmer add the rigatoni and cook for about 10-12 minutes until the pasta becomes al dente. Drain the pasta.
  • In a large vessel, add the cooked pasta along with the béchamel sauce, chunks of roasted pumpkin and the fried pancetta. Combine everything well, ensuring the pasta is coated evenly.
  • Transfer the contents into an oven proof dish, ensuring the chunks of roasted pumpkin are evenly distributed. Finally sprinkle mature cheddar and nutmeg on top and bake for 15-20 minutes until a golden brown crust has developed.

Nutrition

Calories: 571kcal (29%) Carbohydrates: 68g (23%) Protein: 25g (50%) Fat: 23g (35%) Saturated Fat: 10g (63%) Cholesterol: 19mg (6%) Sodium: 1172mg (51%) Potassium: 285mg (8%) Fiber: 3g (13%) Sugar: 10g (11%) Vitamin A: 144IU (3%) Vitamin C: 13mg (16%) Calcium: 18mg (2%) Iron: 17mg (94%)

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #pestleandspiceuk. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for the latest recipes and follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

If you love this lush pasta bake, why don’t you check out our other delicious oven baked recipes? Like this yummy Steak Curry Pie.

Recipe consulted during the making of this recipe: epicurious béchamel sauce recipe.


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