Pumpkin Sausage Pasta

I usually use recipes for inspiration, and change them as I see fit, but this recipe I followed mostly. The recipe is from an amazing cookbook called Simply in Season, which divides recipes into the four seasons, based on the ingredients, allowing you to cook with seasonal produce, which is good for your local community and your pocket book! Anyhow, before we left for Vietnam, our CSA box had a pie pumpkin, and I wanted to use it, but I wanted to do something different. Thumbing through my cookbook, I found this amazing recipe.

Ingredients:

1 lb of pasta

1lb of sweet Italian sausage (I could only find the organic kind with casings, which I pulled off)

1 medium onion finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons of fresh sage cut into thin strips

2 cups of chicken broth, separated into 1 cup portions

1 cup of pumpkin, cooked and pureed

1/2 cup of evaporated milk

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to instructions, shock with cold water to stop pasta from cooking. In a frying pan, cook the sausage, breaking it up into small chunks. Set cooked sausage aside, and get rid of the grease.

2. Add onions and garlic to frying pan, cook for 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add the bay leaf, sage, and 1 cup of broth. Cook until liquid reduces by 1/2.

3. Add 1 cup of broth and 1 cup of pureed pumpkin (see the directions below for preparing the pumpkin). Cook until sauce bubbles, add sausage and reduce heat.

4. Add evaporated milk and seasonings. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes to thicken. Remove bay leaf and mix pasta and sauce together. Toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish with cheese or fresh sage.

This dish totally turned my opinion of the pumpkin as a cooking ingredient around. I am not sure if I just associate pumpkin with sweetness and pumpkin pie, but this pasta was so amazing. Pumpkin is such a rich flavor. It’s almost a spiciness. Coupled with the sweet italian sausage, the pasta turned into a hearty meal. I love dried sage, with vivid memories of my grandfather’s thanksgiving stuffing associated with it, but fresh sage….WOW. What a powerful flavor. This is a great meal for a chilly fall evening.

Directions for Preparing a Pumpkin:

This is actually MUCH easier than I anticipated.

1. Cut the pumpkin in half at the vine (I suggest using a serrated knife)

2. Pull out the seeds and guts. I used a cook dough scoop. Reserve the seeds to cook late (see below for my awesome pumpkin seeds)

3. Place the halved pumpkins in a glass casserole (I used a smaller square one), with a cup of water in the bottom. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes.

4. When you pull it out of the oven, the flesh should be soft, and pull from the skin easily. Add flesh chunks to your blender and puree! (I had to stop and stir my mixture around a couple times).

Rachael’s Yummy Pumpkin Seeds:

So Simple, so delicious.

1. Rise the seeds in cold water, removing any remaining guts or goo.

2. Place seeds in a bowl and toss with olive oil (enough to saturate the seeds, but not to create a soup) and salt.

3. Place as a single layer on a cookie sheet and cook at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

The olive oil created this yummy crust over the seeds. I ate them all before Mark had more than a bite, they were so good!

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