Saturday, March 27, 2010

Recipe Time: Creamy Pumpkin Pasta, Vegetarian-Style

Last October or November, I happened upon a recipe for pasta with creamy pumpkin sauce. It sounded tasty, and as I had a couple of cans of pumpkin lying around, I decided to give it a go. For a variety of reasons, it never quite worked out for me (once it was too salty, once the sauce didn't thicken properly, etc). I was ready to give up on the recipe, but decided during this Lenten time to give it one more shot, this time with a vegetarian twist. While I can't find the original recipe I used, this one is very close. But, to make it vegetarian, what follows is how I made it.

4 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 T butter (I almost always use unsalted butter...for everything)
1/2 small Mayan onion, chopped (optional, but yummy!)
1 pkg baby bellas or shitake mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (about 2 cups fresh, if you have it--I didn't)
2 cups vegetable broth (I used Pacific Organic Vegetable Broth)
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp dried sage
1 lb rotini

In large skillet (I used my 12" All-Clad), melt butter. Add garlic, onion and mushrooms (if using) and saute a bit over medium heat until soft and onions start to turn translucent. Stir in the red pepper flakes and sausage crumbles, cover and cook for about 8 minutes, until the crumbles are cooked, stirring once or twice.

While the sausage crumbles are cooking, in a medium bowl, mix the half-and-half, sour cream, pumpkin, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and sage. Also, start the water for the rotini and cook it according to the directions.

Once the crumbles are cooked, remove the garlic/onion/mushroom/crumbles/paprika mixture from the pan and put them aside. Pour the broth into the skillet to deglaze the pan. When the broth is very warm, whisk-in the pumpkin mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes, allowing the mixture to thicken, stirring as needed.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Pour the pumpkin mixture over it, then add the sausage crumble mixture to that. Stir and cook over low/medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and sticks to the rotini. Serve with fresh chopped parsley mixed in and/or shredded romano cheese, if desired.

This time, when I made the dish, it turned out amazingly well. I usually divide dishes with a whole pound of pasta into 8 servings, and I ate 2 servings the night I made it. I loved the leftovers, too! I may never try it with real sausage again! If you wanted to make a non-vegetarian version of this dish, you could substitute 1 lb of Italian sausage (sweet or hot, turkey or pork) for the sausage crumbles and use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. I didn't end up serving it with the cheese, mostly because I didn't have any on-hand. Let me know if you try this, and if you have any other suggestions.

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