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pumpkin pasta: a fast fall feast!

I stood at the refrigerator yesterday afternoon wondering what I could make for dinner. I had three requirements: 1) it was the end of the month, so I needed to use up leftovers before making my next grocery trip; 2) I was headed to an appointment after dinner, so it had to be fast; and 3) I had a cup of pumpkin (the rest of the can from making pumpkin cheese bread) and a cup of sausage (the remnants of sausage pizza). Easy decision!

I try not to use the word literally too often–to me, it could be the single most overused word in our common vernacular apart from awesome–but I must tell you this awesome meal takes me literally 10 minutes to prepare. Not for nothing, my “NO WANT THIS!” two-year-old asks me for seconds when I make this dish. She never asks for seconds. I’m not much for praising media empress Rachael Ray these days, but I do owe her props for introducing me to the idea of pumpkin and sausage paring well with pasta a decade ago. Martha also gave me a few great tips.


pumpkin sausage pasta
serves 2-4 (depending on the size of your family)

Handful of spaghetti or other pasta, cooked according to package directions in salted/oiled water
2 Tbs. olive oil
2-3 sage leaves
1 sprig rosemary
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. sweet Italian sausage, browned
1 small red onion or shallots and garlic, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 c. whole milk (if using cream or half & half, go with less)
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
pinch of grated nutmeg and red pepper flakes (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

I start by cooking pasta, and while that’s going I fry sage and rosemary in oil. I remove the herbs to leave just their flavors behind…because even my pre-kindergartener who eats everything will say “What’s that green stuff in my soup, Mommy?” Then I throw in onions (or shallots and garlic if I have them), pumpkin, sausage, a splash of vinegar, salt & pepper, grated nutmeg, and a little milk, and whisk those together (if it’s a meal for grown-ups, add a dash of red pepper flakes now too). I add a few ladles of pasta water, then I drain the pasta and throw it in, topping it all off with grated Parmesan cheese. Toss together, and voila! Dinner is served. A little taste of fall for your punkins.

p.s.: Even vegans can enjoy this dish. Just omit the sausage and cheese, swap cow’s milk with almond or coconut milk, and add a little nutritional yeast for flavor and a complete protein.

p.p.s.: I normally use my cast iron skillet for such meals, but we had a fight about some scrambled eggs a few days ago, and I’m still sulking. Are you interested in knowing more about seasoning skillets? I might dedicate a post to that topic; a veteran skillet-user, I still find myself with more to learn a decade into our partnership.

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