I discovered this recipe many years ago, perfect for my favorite time of year. I make it for our annual Halloween party and guests have said they look forward to this meal. There’s something about the flavors of fall that makes me excited with the prospect of Thanksgiving and holidays around the corner. The perfect season when the air is crisp, the leaves turn shades of red and orange and we can start pulling our cozy hoodies out of storage. Whether making caramel apples or carving pumpkins, I like to soak up every chance I can to make festive food. The recipe below uses canned pumpkin so it can be made any time you’re craving a taste of autumn.
(Recipe from Rachael Ray, courtesy of foodnetwork.com)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating
Pumpernickel or whole grain bread, as an accompaniment
Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.
Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.
Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.
Serve pumpkin sausage pasta with pumpernickel or whole grain bread.
That’s So Jenn’s Twist: Pumpkin Stew with White Beans, Potatoes and Meatless Meatballs
When tasting the sauce in preparation for this year’s Halloween festivities, I realized what an excellent soup this would be. With a desire to utilize the many fresh ingredients I had left, I played around with some pantry items as well. This made for a delicious, nutritious and filling dinner packed with protein and flavor.
Using a pot instead of pan, follow instructions for sauce above (I finely chopped the sage instead of using a chiffonade), omitting the sausage and pasta. During the last 10 minutes, add 1 can of rinsed and drained white beans, 1 can of rinsed and drained diced white potatoes and about 10 meatless meatballs, previously defrosted in micro. (I use Trader Joe’s brand and even my husband loves them!) Garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired.
Another alternative is to add diced sweet potatoes and 1 cup of toasted walnuts for a sweeter soup. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!