Pumpkins, Squash At Center Of Healthy Dish With Hearty Flavor
This isn’t your typical pumpkin flavor.
Get the idea of hot lattes and sweet cupcakes and muffins out of your head, because Chris Poremba’s Spicy Pumpkin Sauce over Butternut Squash Noodles isn’t like any pumpkin you’ve ever tasted.
The Dickson City resident developed this recipe while cruising the internet for different types of pumpkin delicacies. Always interested in baking, Poremba recently got more into cooking through his attempt to lose weight. This spicy and hearty sauce tipped over spiraled butternut squash is a healthy option that doesn’t sacrifice taste.
“I’m always on the hunt for something that is good for me but still tastes good,” Poremba said on a recent night. “This fits that criteria.”
For the simple recipe, Poremba said, cooks can use butternut squash they spiralize themselves or buy it pre-made. As for the sauce, cooks should mainly ensure that the sauce doesn’t burn. When bringing the sauce to a boil, keep stirring continuously so nothing sticks or gets too hot. Then, as the cream cheese and heavy cream come into the sauce, Poremba uses some corn starch and cool water, added slowly, to make sure the sauce takes on a smooth, thick consistency.
“You wouldn’t want something like this to be watery,” he said, laughing.
Local Flavor can safely say this sauce was not watery. In fact, its perfect texture complemented the out-of-this-world taste. While creamy and slightly sweet, the sauce definitely had a kick. Poremba said cooks can adjust the amount of crushed red pepper to reduce or turn up the heat. He also noted cubed chicken would be a great addition to the dish, or home cooks could use the sauce for a fall-flavored wing bite.
Even without the chicken, the meal still tasted amazing, topped off with smoky Gouda cheese and parsley and served with a side of fresh-cut sourdough bread.
Spicy Pumpkin Sauce over Butternut Squash Noodles was a hit, but that’s no surprise to those who know Poremba. He watched his parents, Joe and Pat, in the kitchen as a kid and found a love for getting creative with food. Now, he does all the baking for his family for the holidays, including 20 to 30 dozen of six to 10 kinds of cookies, various types of pies and even Polish delicacies such as Kruschiki.
He’s also tried to come up with healthier alternatives to comfort foods such as Loaded Cauliflower Soup, using cauliflower instead of potatoes and swapping zucchini or squash noodles in for typical pasta. None of his meals take more than an hour to prepare, he said. Occasionally, however, he will do something that requires some extra effort, such as a 21-hour roast beef.
No matter the meal, though, Poremba finds solace flexing his creativity in the kitchen.
“Cooking and baking, it’s relaxing to me,” he said. “I put my music on, and I’m there for hours. I really love it.”
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Chris Poremba’s Spicy Pumpkin Sauce
over Butternut Squash Noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
32 ounces vegetable broth
16 ounces pumpkin purée
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces cream cheese, cubed
4 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Add olive oil to sauce pot and coat the bottom of pot evenly. Bring to medium- high heat and cook down chopped shallots, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth, purée, white wine, nutmeg, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper. Turn heat up to high. Bring the sauce to boil, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Let it boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium to stop the sauce from boiling. Add cream cheese and heavy cream, stirring continuously, until cream cheese is completely melted. As the cream cheese and cream become incorporated into the sauce, it will thicken up. (Poremba mixes about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with cold water, slowly poured it in and stirs until consistency is smooth and thick.)
For butternut squash:
1 large butternut squash, peeled and spiraled
(cooks also can buy spiraled butternut squash)
Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange squash on sprayed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast 10 to 20 minutes depending on thickness. Transfer to a bowl and top with sauce.