Simple and elegant, Tuscan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce is easy to make with pantry ingredients. It feels indulgent, yet is packed with veggies and is naturally creamy without a trace of dairy. Perfect for a cool autumn evening or any night of the week.
The other day I was at the grocery store and a jar of bottled pasta sauce caught my eye. It's contents were pumpkin-orange colored and just screamed to be poured over a big pile of noodles for the coziest of fall dinners.
I flipped the jar over to read the ingredient list (as I always do) and found that cream was listed as the third ingredient.
Now, I'm not opposed to cream, but my husband tries to avoid it as it often makes his allergies worse.
And I generally don't buy pasta sauce because it's so darn easy to make at home.
So I decided to try to recreate the Tuscan Pasta Sauce in my own kitchen.
In recreating the sauce I tried to keep the ingredient list short so it would be feasible to make on a regular basis.
I also wanted to come up with a dairy-free option so our whole family could enjoy it.
The final result is not nearly as bright orange as the store-bought version but it still has a warm, pumpkiny undertone.
It also doesn't taste overwhelmingly of pumpkin. The pumpkin basically adds a richness to the sauce plus it adds an extra veggie to your pasta dinner. Love that!
To replace the cream I used full-fat coconut milk, which I know sounds strange but trust me, it really works.
The coconut flavor is undetectable, so it should work even for people who don't love the taste of coconut.
I also added a tiny pinch of cinnamon, as it was included in the store bought version, but you can skip it if you like.
Fresh rosemary and sage really add a lot of flavor to this dish. If your budget allows I'd recommend both, but just rosemary or just sage would also work.
I haven't tried it with dried herbs, so if you do and it works well let us know in the comments.
The final result is a sauce that's rich, creamy, and completely comforting. Serve it over any type of pasta you like, or as a sauce for chicken or fish. It makes a lot so you will probably end up with leftovers.
Enjoy it for lunch or freeze for another night.
KID-FRIENDLY + Recipe ADAPTATIONS
1 | Depending on your child's tastes, skip the cinnamon, sage, and rosemary.
My daughter never noticed the pumpkin in this sauce but she did notice the cinnamon and herbs, which made her wary of eating it.
Now I pull some sauce aside for her before adding the cinnamon and herbs.
2 | Lightly sauce the pasta and then top with parmesan cheese.
THIS RECIPE IS . . .
Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Paleo, Grain-Free, Whole30 (served over a pasta alternative), and Vegetarian
Tuscan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
16 oz pasta (gluten-free, soba, or whole wheat)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
2 15-oz cans pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons honey (omit for Whole30)
1 cup water
½ cup full-fat coconut milk (from a can, not coconut beverage)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or sauce pan. Add the onion, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt, and sauté until the onions are soft and very tender, about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring to avoid burning. Add the pumpkin puree, tomato sauce, honey, 3 teaspoons salt, and water, stirring to combine. Stir on medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble (be careful, the sauce will be thick and might splatter). Turn the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the coconut milk, cinnamon, rosemary, and sage, stirring to combine. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
5. Toss the cooked pasta with 2-3 cups of the sauce. Serve warm with additional sauce if desired.
Makes approximately 6 cups
Notes: This recipe makes a lot of sauce, so if you’re only making 16 oz of pasta you will have leftover sauce. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.