Thursday, November 5, 2009

Penne with Pumpkin, Sausage, and Spinach

AGAIN, with the gourds.

Yes, true, but you love it.  You want to eat pumpkin until your face turns orange and you are poisoned by vitamin A.  You want all things squash -- seeds, innards, jack-o-lanterns, carved-out decorative little bird houses -- and I am going to give it to you.  Well, not all things.  Birds ought not be encouraged.

Adult Supervision

Being an aspiring homesteader, I had to spend time this weekend doing some back-breaking from-scratch project, so because I knew you wanted the aforementioned pumpkin, on Sunday I put up pumpkin puree from a couple of obsolete jack-o-lanterns.  Let me tell you, though, it wasn't easy.  Cutting up pumpkins is hard.  As Greg noted while we struggled to carve the most basic design, butchering the thick rind of a slippery, wobbly gourd with a dull chef's knife is a rather interesting children's activity.  Indeed, cutting, roasting, and pureeing endless batches of leftover pumpkin took all my strength, and thus the rest of the homestead was left neglected and covered in seeds and orange pith.  I shan't do it again.  I shan't!

I shall, however, be doing this pasta again, with canned pumpkin puree.  I have a new go-to combination and it is this: sausage+pasta, or, on an even more basic and true level, pig+grain.  This time, with cinnamon and sage, some unnecessary but redeeming spinach, and pillows of grated parmesan, it was a surprising success.

  Recipe follows . . .

1 pound penne or pasta of choice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 pound sweet or spicy sausage, casings removed (I usually use half sweet, half spicy)
1 large yellow onion or 2 shallots, diced
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher salt
1 cup dry white wine
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for topping
16 ounces baby spinach

Prepare the pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium heating.  Add the onion and cook until transparent, about 3 minutes.  Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage.  Add the sausage and brown, cooking 3-4 minutes.  Add the wine, and let simmer 2 minutes, scraping any browned bits from the pan.

Stir in the pumpkin puree and the 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, and simmer over medium-low heat until a thick sauce forms, 10 minutes or so.  Add the spinach and stir until the spinach wilts, then add the cooked pasta and 1/2 c. parmigiano reggiano and combine well.  Serve immediately.

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