Penne with Pumpkin and sage breadcrumbs


So the big news is … My sister got engaged!! To Matt, the extremely lovely man she’s been dating since University. Happy doesn’t even begin to cover it really. It’s just good good news, happening to people who deserve to have their love celebrated in a Big Way.


Sitting in a pub opposite Borough Market admiring The Sparkliest Ring Ever with a significant proportion of the family, talk turned to weddings of the past. Peter and Katie’s wedding where the best man revealed the existence of the groom’s tattoo, much to the shock of his mother, during the speech. The vegetarian wedding where one carnivorous aunt brought ham wrapped in foil in her handbag in case of emergency.

“Do you remember the Goth wedding?” Emma asked.

We all did. It’s not the kind of wedding you forget in a hurry. A fabulous and idiosyncratic celebration of red and black and purple that reflected the style of the bride and groom – albeit not a style that the rest of us really gibed with. We all wore hats, for example.

I think it’s fair to say that the wedding was a touch controversial among the more traditional matriarchs that tend to dominate my family. Emma summed it up: “Aunty Shirley ran out of Tuts.”

Back to the city after a whirlwind weekend of romance and a lot of champagne, cheeks aching from grinning like a Sloth for three days straight, and back to Fall in full swing – wish I had a coat at the airport. And so to dinner: Ottolenghi-inspired breadcrumbs, straight out of London, and pumpkin-centric, straight to New York.

Penne with pumpkin and sage breadcrumbs 

2 scant cups dried penne
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth.
1 fat clove of garlic
(optional half cup of lardons)
½ can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped sage
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt liberally, and tip in the pasta. Cook according to the packet instructions (but err on the side of slightly al dente)
  • While the pasta is cooking, get a frying pan on the heat, add just a little dash of olive oil and toast up the panko until it is just starting to turn brown. Add the slices sage, and continue to toast until the breadcrumbs are done, and the kitchen smells like heaven. Tip into a dish, add half the parmesan. Season well.
  • Get the frying pan back on the heat, drizzle in a little olive oil and get the lardons cooking until they are crisp and render some fat. Grate in the peeled garlic clove, turn in the heat, then add the wine and cream and pumpkin. Let the sauce bubble and reduce slightly.
  • Toss in the cooked penne, add the rest of the parmesan, and cook for a minute to bring all the flavors together. If the sauce is too dry, add a splash of pasta water.
  • Divide into bowls, and top with the breadcrumbs mixture.
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