Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pumpkin Pasta with Sausage, Spinach, and Sage

I am a Food Network fanatic.  You're not surpised? Huh.  Well, I know all of the stars on a first name basis.  We're all very tight.  Rachael Ray and I especially go a long way back.  Years ago, when I was living in Los Angeles, her show was on during the time that I would make dinner, so Rach and I cooked together.  We'd chop, stir, and saute together.  It was a wonderful friendship.  Although, to be honest, I have not even ONCE managed to make one of her dishes in 30 minutes.  Go figure. 

One of my all-time favorite pasta dishes is her Pasta with Sausage and Wild Mushroom, from her book 365: No Repeats.  (It's a follow-the-recipe-to-the-letter kind of good.)  I usually make it sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sort of as a splurge dish.  It's rich, creamy, and amazing.  So when I saw that my one of my favorite bloggers, Roni Noone, recently posted a lightened up version of the dish on her website, I heard the heavens open up and the angels sing!  OK, maybe not.  But I knew I would be trying it.  

Of course, being true to myself, I fiddled with Roni's recipe, making it a little bit more aligned with Rachael's recipe.  And I added a few things to suit my own taste.  First, I used fresh sage, rather than the ground sage Roni suggested, because the knew how much of a flavor punch it adds.  It's woodsy and earthy and delicious.  However, if you want to make this dish tonight, go right ahead and use dried sage.  No harm done.  Secondly, I added celery.  I wanted to bulk up the veggie content of the dish, and searched my fridge for something mild and unassuming.  Celery jumped right out at me.  It's adds a mild herbal-ness, that almost turns sweet when it's cooked.  It was the perfect addition. 

ABOUT THE GREEK YOGURT:  Instead of the heavy cream that Rachael uses, Roni substituted non-fat greek yogurt.  But alas, I had only plain non-fat yogurt, not greek style, in my fridge.  My version turned out well enough.  However, greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt.  I have a hunch that if you use greek yogurt, you might end up with a more velvety, creamy sauce.  It's just a hunch though.
Pumpkin Pasta with Sausage, Spinach, and Sage
Servings: 6 generous servings
Serving Size: 2 cups
Points per serving: 7

  • 1 lb whole wheat penne pasta (I used Ronzoni Smart Taste)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped as finely as you can muster
  • 1 package Italian turkey sausage (Mine was 1.5 lbs of links that I squeezed out of the casings.  You can also buy the sausage without the casings, also called bulk style.)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed (or the equivalent using pre-minced garlic in a jar.  Genius!)
  • 1 15 oz can chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of extra water
  • 1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt (or 1 cup plain, non-fat greek yogurt)
  • 2-3 tablespoons thinly sliced sage leaves (Go easy on the fresh sage at first, especially if your sausage is flavorful.  Taste as you go.) OR 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Put your pasta water on to boil. Go ahead and get this going early if you like.  It's better to have the water boil for a while than to be impatiently waiting for it.  Once it comes to a boil, add lots of salt and cook your pasta until al dente, then drain. 
  2. In the midst of the pasta-waiting game, start your sauce.  Make sure you use a pan large enough to hold the sauce and pasta together.   
  3. Heat a large pan over medium high heat, and spray with Pam.  Add the sausage, onions and celery to the hot pan.  Let the sausage cook through and the onions and celery soften.  
  4. Add the chicken broth, and bring everything to a boil.
  5. Lower the heat to LOW and add pumpkin puree, spinach, yogurt, sage, nutmeg, kosher salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  6. Add the cooked pasta, and mix together with the sauce, making sure everything is well incorporated.
  7. Enjoy. 

1 comment:

  1. I've made a gluten-free version of that before -- it was really tasty (or so those GF people at my church said!). I didn't think to put a meat in it though, will have to try it!