It’s not even mid-September, and I’m ready for fall. I think a lot of people are. Summer is a nice idea, and several aspects are appealing, like the beach, concerts in the park, $1 movies, and no school. But when it comes to the weather, I loath humidity and high temperatures. I live in North Carolina, where many welcome cool breezes to blow the thick, Southern humidity away. When your glasses fog up upon stepping outside the car, it’s just too darn hot.
The past couple of weeks, we’ve had cooler weather and chilled winds. Store displays are filled with Halloween costumes, vines of silk fall leaves, and even Thanksgiving napkins. All of this has given me permission to start cooking with pumpkin, so tonight I’m serving a family favorite — Pasta with Pumpkin Alfredo sauce.
A Rachel Ray recipe was my first experience with a pumpkin sauce, but she put fall spices in the dish, and yuck. I assumed a pumpkin sauce wasn’t for me. After being gifted literally a mini-van trunk full of sugar pumpkins, I decided to re-visit the idea of a pumpkin sauce. I’ve never had such an enormous canning project, putting up that pumpkin. This was two years ago, and I have one jar left. I can’t think of a more worthy dish to employ my last jar of pumpkin.
The sausage in this recipe adds a nice depth of flavor to this otherwise mild dish. If you substitute milk or fat-free half-and-half, you can expect a thinner sauce. Home-canned pumpkin (used in this recipe testing) is a thinner consistency than store-bought, so you may need to thin out the sauce anyway, adding more stock, cream or even a little pasta water.
This sauce is a butternut color, and your children may interrogate you on its contents. Before revealing the sauce is pumpkin, you might want to say, “fall cheese sauce” or something first, because American minds go right to pumpkin spice regarding any pumpkin food or drink. After they like it, that’s when you should reveal they just ate pumpkin sauce, and how cool is that?
Pasta with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce
½ pound of ground sausage
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup diced onion
2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
¾ cup chicken broth
⅓ cup half-and-half
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta noodles
Cook pasta noodles in salted water and do not rinse.
Brown sausage, breaking into crumbles. After sausage is fully cooked, remove from pan onto a plate lined with a paper towel. Leave sausage drippings in the pan, and add garlic and onion. Cook until soft. (Note: I use lean sausage, so there are very few drippings in my pan. You only want about a tablespoon of sausage drippings left in pan.)
Add pumpkin puree and chicken broth, and heat through. Add cream, cheese, salt and pepper. Cook until cheese is melted. Add pasta and sausage, and heat through.