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Playing Pumpkin Vodka Cream Pasta with Spinach or Kale | Shells & Cheese Recipe | Rachael Ray

As part of our "12 Days of Thanksgiving" countdown, Rach shares a creamy, pumpkin twist on shells and cheese. 

Click here for more easy and delicious Turkey Day ideas.


For the Pumpkin Puree:
  • 1 small pumpkin, halved and cleaned, sprayed with non-aerosol olive oil or brushed with oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
For the Pasta:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped, or 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • ¼ cup 'nduja or (to make it vegetarian) 1 ½ teaspoons red chili flakes or 1 rounded tablespoon Calabrian chili paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 cups packed shredded, stemmed fresh flat kale or defrosted/wilted spinach, excess liquid squeezed out in kitchen towel and chopped
  • About 2 cups Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 cup cream  
  • 1 pound lumache or large shell pasta, or 500 grams
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 


Serves: 6


For the Pumpkin Puree, preheat oven to 450˚F with rack at center, season the pumpkin with salt, pepper and nutmeg, roast cut-side down to tender, about 30 minutes, cool to handle and scoop the flesh. Puree. 

(Of course, you can take a shortcut and use about 2 cups of store-bought butternut squash puree or 15 ounces cooked canned pumpkin as a substitute per pound of pasta.) 

For the pasta, heat a pot of water for pasta, about 6 quarts.  

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with EVOO, add butter and let it melt and foam, add the shallots or onions and garlic, ‘nduja (or red chili flakes), and salt and black pepper. Soften a couple of minutes while stirring, add vodka and reduce by about ⅔, then wilt in kale or add spinach. Add pumpkin puree and cream and keep warm over lowest heat.  

Salt water and cook pasta 1 minute less than directions, reserve 1 cup of water and drain. Toss pasta with sauce and cheese, adding water as necessary to keep sauce thick but loose not dry.