Paccheri with Hokkaido Pumpkin, Ginger, Beef & Arugula
One thing, one of many things of course, that I learned from my mother was: you really don't need much in the way of ingredients to make a tasty and satisfying meal. This was my main course, after the little plate of carpaccio that you may have seen below... and there was less meat in this dish than in my starter!
The incredible thing is just how much flavor it added to the pasta- just 2 little slices of paper thin beef! As for the pumpkin- you can see it in all its glory in that photo and yes, it IS in-scale! It was approximately the size of a grapefruit- and as you can see, I only used one quarter of it! But you had better believe me when I tell you that this was the tastiest plate of pasta I have had for quite some time!
I started off by peeling and finely chopping about a thumb-sized piece of ginger. I added half of it to the pasta water and the other half went into the frying pan with a little olive oil.
I added chopped garlic and onion to the ginger and the pasta to the boiling, well-salted water... and from that point on I had around 8-9 minutes time to get the rest done until the paccheri were "al dente" and ready to go!
I cut the beef into thin strips and added it in to the frying pan and whilst it began to fry and brown-off, I grated the quarter of the pumpkin coarsely an added it to the pan. As I have mentioned before, I love Hokkaido pumpkins most of all as they do not require peeling! I seasoned with salt, pepper, a little cayenne, a little nutmeg and hint of cinnamon and stirred everything together well.
After 5-6 minutes, I began to add a little of the pasta water to the pumpkin and stirring it together. It soon began to soften and blend all of the flavors of the other ingredients together... and to smell very, very good indeed!
I drained the pasta and added it, along with a good handful of arugula, which I tore into slightly smaller pieces. I added olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and stirred everything together well... the pasta soon took on a lovely orange hue from the pumpkin and the juices soon began to thicken up and become creamy, with a nice sheen from the olive oil... fantastic!
I decided against cheese with this dish as I personally do not like the idea of cheese in combination with ginger- but you could use a Grana, Ricotta salata or Parmesan of course if you so prefer. The only down-side to that, if you were eating with me, would be that I would already be half ready by the time you finished grating!