Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta

When I was in graduate school, I made a long walk between my apartment and the university campus every day.  I walked through a residential neighborhood full of old houses, watching families coming home at the end of the afternoon and wondering when or if I’d ever make the transition from kid to grownup in a family of my own.  I have very clear memories of scuffing through the autumn leaves on the sidewalks of that neighborhood, checking out the scarecrows in front yards and pumpkins on front porches.  I wanted all of that–the house, the fall decorations, the family–but I had no idea how to go about getting it, or if there was anything I could do to make sure I wound up where I wanted to be.  I had a feeling that maybe you had to luck into that life.  I wasn’t sure I would.

This was before I met The Hubs, of course.  Once that happened, everything fell into place:  I figured out that when you have a partner, you have a family.  And once you have a family, where you live isn’t all that important.  And the fall decorations–well, the pumpkins were right there all along, at the grocery store, waiting for people to buy them.   Some pieces of your happiness are easier to gain than others.

Maybe all of that has something to do with the fact that pumpkin is a comfort food for me.   Sitting down to this dinner of Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta last night, Mr. Picky was less certain of whether it would be comforting or if, instead, it would shove him right out of his comfort zone with the first bite.  I knew the sausage would provide a little more spice than what he usually likes, so I made sure his serving was heavier on the pasta and pumpkin sauce.  The Girl loves sausage–she was more than happy to eat her brother’s share.  (I used turkey sausage, as always, but any kind you prefer will work just as well.)  She wasn’t sure about the combination of pumpkin and sausage, but she conceded that the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins had been pretty good, so she was willing to give the pasta a try.

Since we’re still trying to eat gluten-free as much as possible, I used Mrs. Leeper’s corn spaghetti.  That’s just exactly what it sounds like:  spaghetti made from ground corn, rather than wheat flour.  It’s a gorgeous golden yellow color, not unlike the turning leaves of fall, and we tasted no big difference in texture or flavor once it was cooked.   Next time around, I might try a corkscrew variety of pasta to balance out the chunky sausage and grab the pasta sauce, so less of it ends up on the dinner plate.

Both of the Foodie children ended up enjoying this combination, although The Boy still pushed aside some of the sausage I’d added to his serving.  They were both intrigued by the fact that pumpkin works as well in a savory dish as well as it does in sweet treats, where they’re more accustomed to tasting it.   Pumpkin is nothing if not versatile, which is one of the things I love most about it:  it’s a reminder that anything is possible, once you have the right ingredients.


Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta


1 lb. turkey sausage (or any type you prefer)
1 t. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. sage
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup evaporated milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. pasta


Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage, then remove it to a plate lined with paper towels.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the olive oil to the skillet; add the onion and garlic. Stir until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine to the pan and allow it to come to a bubble. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and sage.

After the wine in the skillet has reduced by about half its volume (about 3 minutes), stir in the chicken stock and pumpkin puree. Again, allow the sauce to come to a bubble. Stir in the sausage. Turn down the heat and stir in the evaporated milk.

Let the sauce simmer over low heat and thicken while the pasta cooks. Drain the cooked pasta and stir it into the sauce before serving.


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3 Responses to “Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta”

  1. 1

    Susie — October 3, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

    Loved this post…I longed for that “cozy autumn with family” when I was younger as well..glad we both found it. Recipe sounds delicious and I’m blessed that my crew likes pumpkin, sausage and pasta!

  2. 2

    Christine — October 8, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

    We made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing. The only difference is that we used 14oz of pureed squash. Great, great recipe!

  3. 3

    familyfoodie — October 8, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    So glad you enjoyed it, Christine! I have a recipe for butternut squash pasta sauce here:
    Since you liked this one, you might enjoy the other as well.

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