Pasta With Sausage and Pumpkin Sauce

by Lori on November 16, 2010

I can’t think of another vegetable that is more synonymous with fall than the pumpkin.  Think about it.  From decorating to cooking, pumpkins experience no shortage of glory at this time of year.  And no other another veggie gets as much action as a pumpkin.  To top it all off, pumpkins found their way into dessert on the biggest food day of the year.  That’s a big deal and for good reason.

From a food perspective, pumpkins deserve all the recognition they get.  They are low in calories and loaded with good-for-you vitamins and minerals.  They taste good too.  And while we often find ourselves basking in the glow of the pumpkin-based desserts, a little attention needs to be given to the savory side of things.  Pumpkin without all the sugary sweetness is an absolute delight.  And paired with some spicy Italian sausage…well…it’s downright delicious.  In this recipe, the natural, subtle sweetness in the pumpkin is a perfect counter-balance to the heat from the sausage.  So if you’re looking for ways to add healthy, seasonal ingredients into your meals, this would be a good choice.  And if you’re planning a Thanksgiving dinner with Italian flavors, this would be a perfect addition to your holiday feast.

Remove the sausage from the casing and add to a hot skillet prepared with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook until browned and remove to a bowl while preparing the sauce.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil after cooking the sausage.  Add the 3 remaining tablespoons of olive oil and add the chopped onion, sliced garlic and chopped sage.  Cook until the onions and garlic being to brown.

Add the sausage back to the skillet and deglaze the skillet with wine making sure to scrape the bottom to get up all the tasty little bits.

Add the pumpkin puree.  I used canned pumpkin, because that’s how I roll.  Honestly, the canned pumpkin is excellent.  Maybe someday I will make my own pumpkin puree, but there isn’t much incentive when the canned alternative is so good and convenient.

Add in the chicken stock and incorporate.

Increase the heat and bring the sauce up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.  The sauce needs the full 30 minutes to thicken.  While the sauce simmers, get a big pot of salted water ready for the pasta.  And now would be a good time to pour yourself a glass of wine…Pinot Grigio to be exact.  That’s what I used in the sauce.

It may be hard to tell from this photo, but the sauce has thickened nicely and is now ready to be added to the cooked pasta that was cooked al dente.

No matter how you look at it this is a delicious combination of flavors, and do not pass up the opportunity to put some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Pasta With Sausage and Pumpkin Sauce
Recipe from www.Nick Stellino.com
Serves 6 to 8

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian hot sausage, casings removed
1 cup chopped onion
10 garlic cloves, sliced thick
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1-1/4 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1-1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound of pasta (recommend penne or penne rigate)
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook over high heat for 2 minutes.  Add the sausage and begin breaking it up into bite sized pieces with a wooden spoon.  Cook the sausage until it browns, about 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat, remove sausage with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl covered with foil.  Set aside.  Spoon out and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the skillet.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic and chopped sage.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring well, until the onion and garlic begin to brown.  (If you like it really spicy, you can add 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes at this point.)

Add the reserved sausage and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring well.  Add the wine and deglaze the pan making sure to scrape the skillet to dislodge all the browned bits.  Cook for 8 minutes.

Add the pumpkin puree and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well.  Add the chicken stock and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water (add 2 tablespoons of salt) to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to directions for on the box.  Drain the pasta and pour back into the pot.  Add the sauce and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, gently stirring to incorporate.  Remove the pot from the heat, add the optional Parmesan cheese and serve.

Cooks Notes:
- This was a bit spicy for my kids, so the next time around I will use a 50/50 combination of sweet and spicy Italian sausage.
- The cinnamon is listed as an optional ingredient, but I recommend it.  I added the cinnamon to taste and ended up using slightly less than 1/4 teaspoon.
- I added a small amount, about 1/8 teaspoon at the very end of the cooking process.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary November 17, 2010 at 4:37 am

I'm on a pumpkin kick and this sounds so great! Bookmarked!! Great blog!

Mary xo
Delightful Bitefuls

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Peggy November 23, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I love the savory side of pumpkin! This dish will definitely be put on the to-do list!

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