Monday, September 30, 2013

Light Pumpkin Pasta with a bonus of Pumpkin Cream Cheese

That white girl will totally be me.  I hope you all are prepared for this; I held out as long as I could.  If you don't like pumpkin you might want to skip out on this blog until the end of fall (don't do that, I have some cool crafts coming up).

My mother once told me never to give out my best recipes.  It will insure that you are always invited to parties as long as you know how to make it and no one else does.  Well, pumpkin pasta is one of my best tricks, and everyone around me knows that if they invite me to a party in fall, they will get a ton of it.  It hurts a little bit to put this one out there, but I am a pretty giving person, and you all deserve to be able to try it.  

However if I stop getting invited over to places in the Fall, you will never get my other great seasonal staples. >:(

Well, now that my little warning is out of the way, here it is: my fall staple, pumpkin pasta.  I have only had one person that was iffy about it, but it was this last time I made it and I didn't have the right wine or sausage.  Many people make faces when I tell them about it, but savory pumpkin dishes are awesome.  Even people who hate pumpkin enjoy this dish.

Pumpkin in ALL THE FOOD!
The first time I made this, it took hours.  Tweaking the flavors, adding things and adding more things, washing utensils I didn't think I would need anymore.  It was a mess.

Luckily, I now have the recipe perfected to my tastes, and everything runs a lot smoother.  It only takes about an hour to prep and cook.  With the directions in hand, it shouldn't take you much longer than that either. 

It is also low mess dish.  A pot, pan, cutting board, and a few tools and utensils.  I should warn you though, it is another one of my dishes that can feed a small army.  There are about ten servings at about 275 calories per serving.

It pairs well with whole grain breads and spinach salad with fresh cut apples in it.  If you use a dressing for this, use a light vinaigrette.  I used to make a homemade pomegranate dressing for this salad, but I have been hesitant to buy a pomegranate after a mold incident two years ago.  Perhaps I will take one for the team for you all and give you the recipe for that one too...  

Anyways, here is the recipe.  I highly suggest you try this one out.

1 pound sweet turkey sausage links (it is also pretty good with pork if you absolutely cannot find turkey, just not as healthy)
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
1 medium onion, small dice (cut it into squares the size of playing dice if you can)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup low fat half and half
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a large pan with olive oil and brown the sausage until fully cooked in the center (this is a good time to chop up the onion and garlic while you are waiting)
2. Remove sausage from pan and add onion and garlic to pan
3. Cook over medium heat until the onions begin to brown
4. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil for the pasta (make sure to pour it in as soon as it starts boiling, don't forget until the end like I have)
5. Slice sausage and cut each little round in half
6. Add bay leaf, sage and wine to the pan.  Simmer for about 3-4 minutes
7. Add pumpkin and chicken stock to the pan, bring to a simmer
8. Reduce heat and add half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper
9. Return sausage to the pan and simmer for about 5-10 minutes
10. Remove bay leaf and pour over drained pasta
11. Mix together and enjoy!

So anyone who cooks with a lot of pumpkin (that might just be me) will look at this recipe and say "Hey!  One cup is not a whole can of pumpkin!  What am I supposed to do with the rest of this stuff!"  No worries, I have your back.  I will be posting more recipes that don't take a whole can and other little things you can do with it all season long, but I didn't want to leave you hanging.  

Here is the bonus recipe: Pumpkin Cream Cheese

This is so easy to make, and it only takes about a minute.  It is so good on bagels, and it is versatile enough to use it on anything you would use regular cream cheese.  You can use whatever cream cheese you want to, just keep in mind that original and honey flavors work best.  If you are using honey flavored, make sure to taste it before you add additional honey.

Leftover pumpkin from previous recipe (the amount can vary if you have left over pumpkin from something else, make sure it is at least 2/3 a cup.
8 oz cream cheese (I used non fat for a healthier treat)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon honey

1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix until the mixture is homogeneous (fat free cream cheese is a littler harder to work with, if you have a few white pieces left the world won't end and it will still taste good)
2.  Taste and adjust flavors to your liking
3. Store in a tight opaque plastic container 

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