About a year ago, I shared on the blog one of my favorite fall recipes: Pumpkin Sausage Penne. Comforting, satisfying, spiced—it basically checks all the boxes for a cozy autumn meal.
Over the years, I haven’t fussed with the recipe much. I liked it the way it was. But this time around, when Fall arrived and I rushed to the kitchen to prepare this dish, I realized I had to change a few things up…
…And I loved it.
So yes, it merited a new, revised post.
Here’s what’s different:
We just moved, so my spice cabinet is pretty sparse. I had the called-for cinnamon and nutmeg, but no bay leaf. Bye bye, Bay leaf. You’re out.
We were out of garlic. A sprinkling of garlic powder did the trick. No one was the wiser, and I think it added a smoother yet punchy garlic note.
One of the dinner guests has a reaction to tannins, so white wine was a no-go. While sipping freely from the bottle as the sauce simmered, I swapped out the wine in the recipe for an extra cup of broth. Sure, the wine elevates the dish, but without, it was simple, straightforward, home-cooked goodness.
Finally: I just hate it when a recipe calls for ingredients that leave you with awkward leftovers. Sometimes I roast & puree pumpkins myself, but more often than not, I grab a few cans from the store. If a recipe only calls for 1 cup of pumpkin puree, I’m left with 3/4 of a cup from the can that will rot in a forgotten tupperware in the back of my fridge.
I decided to dump in the whole can.
It was saucy and creamy and pumpkin-y and so much better that way.
Pumpkin Sausage Pasta [revised]
1 pound pasta [I like to use penne]
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage (if links, remove from casing)
1 small onion (about 1/2 cup), finely chopped
2 cups chicken stock (or sub up to 1 cup dry white wine)
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 bay leaf (optional)
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves of garlic, minced)
salt and pepper, for seasoning
loads of parmesan cheese, for serving
Set a pot of salted water on to boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot (a dutch oven works well) over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking it up into chunks with a spoon. Place the sausage on a plate lined with a paper towel to catch the excess grease and set aside.
Return pot to stove and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. When hot, toss in chopped onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent and it begins to brown. Add garlic (powder or minced) and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Pour 1 cup of the stock (or, if using, wine) into the pot with the onions. Cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to pick up all the brown bits, until reduced by about half. Stir in the remaining cup of stock, pumpkin and (optional) bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in heavy cream, cooked sausage, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Reduce heat, season with salt and pepper, and then let the mixture simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-8 minutes.
Add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce, stirring until completely coated. Serve immediately, topped with huge piles of freshly grated parmesan cheese.