1/2 pound penne pasta (or any short pasta: rigatoni, rotini)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vermouth, white wine, or broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup torn arugula or baby spinach
Heat a large skillet over high heat with the olive oil. Add the onions and bay leaf and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cover skillet and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring once at the halfway point.
While the onions caramelize, cook your pumpkin. Using a sharp knife and stabilizing it with a damp towel underneath if you like, cut the pumpkin into wedges. Put on a plate, cut side up, and microwave about 5 minutes until soft. Allow to cool.
Set a large pot of water to boil for your pasta while your pumpkin cools and the onions continue to cook.
When the onions are nicely caramelized, add the garlic, herbs and vermouth and stir.
Peel the pumpkin and cut into 1″ chunks. You will have about 2 cups of chunks. Add them the the onion mixture and sprinkle with the salt. Allow to simmer uncovered until the pasta is cooked.
BEFORE you drain your pasta, reserve a cup of the cooking liquid; just dip it out of the pot with a measuring cup and set aside.
Drain your pasta and add it to the pumpkin/onion mixture along with 3/4 cup of the pasta water.
Add in the Parmesan and stir. Add the cream if using.
Allow to cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the sauce is thick and clings to the pasta.
Serve with toasted walnuts and fresh greens tossed in at the last minute.