Creamy, tangy, luscious Pumpkin Feta Penne Pasta is jam packed with caramelized onion and garlic for an incredibly flavorful yet light pasta!
Have you ever tried pumpkin pasta?
If not, I’ll just be the beacon of good news: Pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin mac and cheese, and pumpkin pasta sauce are all shockingly great!
They may sound sweet and dessert-like, but quite the opposite is true. They’re savory and flavor-loaded. Savory pumpkin recipes are equally inviting as sweet pumpkin treats.
About 10 years ago, I went on a kick making pasta sauce using pumpkin puree and was blown away by the flavor!
Creamy, silky-smooth, slightly sweet with that underlying nuttiness, the pumpkin sauce in this penne pasta recipe generates a picture perfect flavor palate.
Combined with tangy onion, garlic and feta cheese, pumpkin goes a long way in making a meal absolutely tantalizing!
Of course we add chopped spinach to make it appear like “health food.”
In all seriousness, the nutrient profile of this recipe is pretty great! Jam packed with complex carbs and Vitamins, all we need is to eat it with protein for a complete meal. Healthy pumpkin mac and cheese at its finest!
- Incredibly easy to make
- Crazy creamy yet light!
- Easy to make dairy-free
- A must-make any time of year!
- Marvelous for meal prep
Health Benefits of Pumpkin:
High in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin B12 and more, pumpkin is incredibly rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants and is touted as a low-inflammatory food. In addition, it is a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber.
One of the best parts about using pumpkin in sauce in addition to its lovely flavor is the fact that it adds volume without adding a huge amount of calories or fat. Do we need to care deeply about the calories and fat in our food? Maybe not.
For those of us who do pay attention to macros, whether habitually or just here and there, the macro profile of pumpkin is noteworthy.
Taking the nutrient breakdown of pumpkin, this superfood is a wise source of complex carbs for those who try to get the most out of their food.
Now that we have the lay of the land, let’s dive into the ingredients.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Feta Penne Pasta:
Penne Pasta Noodles: The main star of the show here! I use Jovial Gluten-Free Penne Pasta, which is made with brown rice flour. I often use cassava flour pasta as well. You can use any of your favorite brands!
Avocado Oil: Used to sauté the onion, I use avocado oil because it has a high smoke point, ideal for sautéing over high heat.
Onion & Garlic: Yellow onion gets caramelized to golden-brown perfection to make this pasta insatiably enticing! In addition, a generous amount of garlic plays a key role in adding even more delicious flavor.
Pumpkin Puree: Canned pumpkin puree makes up the majority of the sauce for this easy pumpkin pasta recipe. It has a natural sweetness, nuttiness, and creates a thick, delicious sauce without adding excess fat. Pumpkin dresses up your pasta in fall flair!
Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk (or half & half): Used to add silkiness to the sauce, full-fat canned coconut milk keeps the sauce lower in dairy while keeping it nice and creamy. Be sure to use full-fat canned coconut milk (not coconut milk from a carton) for the best results. The coconut milk in a carton will separate upon boiling and will not be thick enough to make the sauce nice and creamy.
Baby Spinach: Chop up a couple handfuls of baby spinach and toss it in to make this pasta “healthy.” Just kidding. I love spinach in applications like this because it provides a nice earthiness and is an easy way of taking in your greens. Feel free to leave it out if you aren’t into it!
Feta Cheese: A little feta goes a long way in making the pumpkin pasta sauce absolutely irresistible. If you’re dairy-free, you can use your favorite non-dairy cheese or omit it altogether – the pasta will still be plenty flavorful!
Ground Nutmeg: A little pinch of ground nutmeg gives the pasta a fall vibe. You can ramp up the amount of nutmeg if you love it, but if you’re new to using nutmeg, be cautious as even a small amount does pack a huge punch of flavor.
Sea Salt: Just remember the feta cheese has quite a bit of salt in it so be sure to taste the pasta for flavor before adding too much salt.
Optional: Make this a pumpkin mac and cheese situation by adding 1 cup of grated mozzarella, gouda, or gruyere cheese to the pumpkin sauce.
Let’s make this delicious penne pasta!
How to Make Gluten-Free Pumpkin Feta Penne Pasta:
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside until ready to use. (Note: I typically cook pasta a couple minutes less than indicated on the package to keep the noodles al dente).
Heat the avocado oil in a thick-bottomed pot (or skillet) over medium-high heat and add the onion.
Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns golden-brown and begins to caramelize, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Note: If the onion begins to burn or the edges become dark quickly, add a small amount of water to deglaze the pan. I do this several times when caramelizing onion.
Add the garlic and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and feta and bring to a full boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add in the cooked pasta noodles and stir well until everything is coated with sauce.
Taste the sauce for flavor and add sea salt and nutmeg to taste. I use about ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg, but you can add more if you love the flavor (it’s easy to overdo it on nutmeg, so err on the conservative side if you don’t have experience with it).
Serve with additional feta sprinkled on top and enjoy!
Make this pumpkin pasta a complete meal by serving it alongside some animal protein, or adding a boneless chicken breast or adding pre-cooked chicken such as rotisserie chicken.
So there you have it! Everything you need to make an amazingly flavorful creamy healthy pumpkin mac and cheese that also happens to be a health-conscious choice.
Enjoy this creamy delight!
More Pasta Recipes:
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta (dairy-free)
- Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce
- Baked Feta Pasta (Gluten-Free)
- Chicken Sausage Pesto Pasta
- 30-Minute Sausage Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Pumpkin + Feta 4 Evah!
Pumpkin Feta Penne Pasta (Gluten-Free)
- 12 ounces gluten-free penne pasta noodles
- 1 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- ½ cup full-fat canned coconut milk or half & half
- 3 cups baby spinach finely chopped
- 2/3 cup Feta cheese crumbles
- Pinch ground nutmeg optional
- Sea salt to taste
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside until ready to use. (Note: I typically cook pasta a couple minutes less than indicated on the package to keep the noodles al dente).
- Heat the avocado oil in a thick-bottomed pot (or skillet) over medium-high heat and add the onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns golden-brown and begins to caramelize, about 10 to 15 minutes. Note: If the onion begins to burn or the edges become dark quickly, add a small amount of water to deglaze the pan. I do this several times when caramelizing onion. Add the garlic and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, and feta and bring to a full boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta noodles.
- Taste the sauce for flavor and add sea salt and nutmeg to taste.
- Serve with additional feta sprinkled on top and enjoy!