Pumpkin-Sausage Pasta

IMG_1327The pumpkin patch was even more productive than I’d hoped. This is great news! Except now I’m faced with an interesting puzzle I’d not anticipated: what do you do with that much pumpkin?

It’s probably owing to the fact that I grew these pumpkins myself and watched their every move for an entire season, but I can’t fathom the idea of giving them away. As I tell you this, I remember James’ head moving from side to side in disbelief.

Exasperated, I said, “Well, I wouldn’t give one to someone who was just gonna carve it into a Jack-O-Lantern or something and let it sit out on their stoop and rot… and waste! They’d have to agree to cook with it.”

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Heaven forbid! As Linus would attest, each of these pumpkins has character and sincerity. I’d no sooner let one rot than I would hurl them from my third floor window at rude drivers on the busy street below! I’m not holding my breath waiting for the phone to ring with friends and family asking for a pumpkin to cook. Most people simply reach for the canned stuff when a recipe calls for pumpkin. And, who can blame them? What’s IMG_1294found in a can is not so far removed from what you can produce in your own kitchen. Using store-bought is a way of saving some time and work… that is, if you think boiling water or turning on your oven is such a chore. (arching eyebrow)

If you are into the granny arts such as I am, you are aware that homemade pumpkin purée can be frozen just as easily as you would freeze any other fruit or vegetable. While this is my first year to grow my own, thanks to farmer’s markets, I’ve not purchased canned pumpkin in 5 years. This provides me, no doubt, with fresher pumpkin, but probably the only other benefit is a slightly smug sense of self satisfaction.

Inside each of these pumpkins is a world of possibility and I aim to savor each bite. From the seeds to the flesh, the next several months will be a pleasant study in orange! IMG_1293One of the side benefits about this “study in orange” (other than the many health benefits of eating more pumpkin) will be learning to think outside the pie as far as pumpkin is concerned. Many people — especially in America — tend to typecast pumpkin, relegating it to pumpkin pie and other similarly-sweet things. Today’s recipe has our star breaking out into a fresh, new role.

Pumpkin-Sausage Pasta
Adapted from Simply In Season
Serves 4

    8 ounces fusili or penne pasta
    8 ounces Italian Sausage, casings removed
    1 medium onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 bay leaf
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (or 2 teaspoons dried & crushed)
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
    1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed or ground (optional)
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
    1 cup pumpkin purée (canned or homemade)
    1/2 cup evaporated 2% milk
    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground mace
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Cook pasta according to package directions.

    Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook and crumble sausage. When thoroughly cooked, remove from pan, reserving up to 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Add onions to the pan and sauté 3-5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook stirring constantly for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

    To the onion mixture, add the bay leaf, sage, thyme, fennel seeds, and wine; scraping the pan to release the brown bits. Cook 5-7 minutes or until liquid is almost completely evaporated.

    Stir in the chicken stock and pumpkin purée. Bring to a simmer. Stir in cooked sausage; reduce heat. Stir in remaining ingredients; stirring until cheese is completely melted. Add the cooked pasta; tossing over low heat 1-2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

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For me, the trickiest part of this recipe is getting the pasta done at just the right time. I think the best thing to do is have a pot of water boiling ahead of time so that you can just throw the pasta in when you’re about 8 minutes from being ready for it.

As an entrée, this recipe serves four. But, as a side to grilled chicken, you could stretch it further. Garnish your plate with additional fresh sage and even add more grated parmesan cheese, if you wish. While not, perhaps, impressive enough to “wow” company (note its humble, unassuming appearance), this recipe is a reliable choice for autumn weeknight meals and showcases the versatility of the indomitable pumpkin.

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~ by Jason on September 23, 2010.

2 Responses to “Pumpkin-Sausage Pasta”

  1. Actually, I was thinking, “Wow!” And was a little sad not to have been invited to dinner. I love savory pumpkin dishes (since I can’t have the sweet)! I have some great recipes that would work for this as well. I have a butternut squash mac and cheese that would be delish with pumpkin as well. And a great breakfast, a scoop of pumpkin in some yogurt with cinnamon and granola. It’s like eating pie for breakfast!

  2. Oooh… mac & cheese? That sounds nice!

    I’ve not thought about adding it straight to yogurt, either. Mmm!

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