Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pasta with Sausage, Sage & Pumpkin

A bit before Thanksgiving, I vaguely remember hearing some news stories about a pumpkin shortage.

I live near a Libby's pumpkin packing plant and short of storming the castle, I stocked up at my local grocery store. I had visions of baking gorgeous loaves of pumpkin bread for everyone on my holiday list. Now that we've had our fill of pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, my pantry still is full of canned pumpkin (10 cans, to be exact)  – and I'm looking for new ways to use it.

Pumpkin is especially good in savory dishes. It goes well with pork, and stands out in Pumpkin and Ricotta Pasta Bake and Pumpkin Black Bean Chili.

After staring at my pumpkin-filled pantry, hoping for a sign from the culinary Gods, I opened the freezer. A few packages of Italian sausage in there. A check of the fridge revealed a carton with a bit of remaining cream and a few bottles of white wine. Yay! So here we go.

Mangia! Mangia!

Pasta with Sausage, Sage & Pumpkin

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage (use ground or thinly sliced links, or you can remove the meat from the casings)
4 cloves or 4 teaspoons of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons (about 6 sprigs) sage leaves, cut into thin strips
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente
Shredded or shaved parmesan cheese
Additional sage leaves, sliced

*Note: if you want to leave out the wine, replace it with chicken stock.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown. Remove sausage from skillet and let it drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Drain drippings from pan and return pan to heat.

Add 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and onion. Cook until onion is tender.  Add bay leaf, sage and wine to the skillet and cook until the wine is reduced by about half. Scrape up any browned bits in the pan while cooking. Add chicken stock and pumpkin and cook until bubbly.

Add sausage to the sauce, reduce the heat and add the cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Remove bay leaf.

Put pasta back into the pot you cooked it in and pour the pumpkin sauce on top. Gently stir to combine.

Place pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl. Generously stop with parmesan cheese and more sage leaves.

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