Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Easiest Pumpkin Pasta Sauce Ever!

Hi guys!  I am going to make this short and sweet today…..I have a 4 year old begging me to go outside and play with her.  I am not much of a “player”, but I can get on board with sitting on the lounge chair while she plays.  She told me she wants to hunt for lizards.  She certainly is the opposite of me when I was little.  I would rather have scratched my eyeballs out with a nail file then play outside with lizards.  I just wanted to play dolls…..inside.  Where no reptilian creatures lived.  But I guess we live in the country/forest now.  This is what us hill-folk do;)

As promised, I have another pumpkin recipe for you.  And it is a savory one!  I have been making this pasta for years.  I tend to only make it in the fall, which is weird because it is so delicious.  I guess it is the lack of canned pumpkin in the stores all year around that keeps me from making it……Too bad.  It comes together really easily.  Quickly too!  You can throw together this sauce in the amount of time it takes you to boil your noodles.  That is the best kind of weeknight meal, I think.

The starting line-up for this sauce is chicken broth or stock, canned pumpkin, butter, Philadelphia “Cooking Crème”, half and half, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, shallot and garlic.  As you might have guessed….this isn’t low-fat.  Just don’t eat the whole pot, and you should be fine.

FYI-if you can’t find Philly Cooking Crème, regular cream cheese will work.  That is what I have always used, up until now.  This cooking crème is a more recent invention.  It is cream cheese that is a bit thinner so that it melts into food easier.

I start by finely chopping the shallot.  As you can see, I have yet to chop the garlic.  I smashed it to get its skin off, but I will use my garlic mincer to mince it.  If you don’t have a fancy tool, just mince it with a knife.

In about ½ a stick of butter, I sautéed the shallot and garlic, just until softened.  Do not brown this.  This means that you need to cook it over medium heat, and watch it.  Don’t walk away.

After about 5 minutes, the shallot and garlic will be sufficiently softened.  Then I added one cup of pumpkin, and mixed well.

Next goes the chicken stock, cooking crème and half and half.  And oh yeah, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Mix again.

Once the cooking crème is melted in, I stirred in the parmesan cheese.  Now I just let it go, over medium heat, until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is starting to bubble.  It is pretty much done.  If your noodles aren’t done yet….just keep the sauce at a low simmer.

I used rigatoni noodles with this sauce.  You want a cut of pasta that is thick and has ridges.  You need pasta that will really hold the sauce on it.  Spaghetti won’t work as well.

My last touch, my garnish if you will, is frizzled sage.  I picked a few fresh sage leaves out of my yard and I quickly fried them in hot oil.  Literally, only about 30 seconds.  I laid the sage on a paper towel to drain, and then I crushed it up over the top of the pasta.  This step is optional.

How quick was all of that????

Oh man, I could easily eat a pound of this.  It is that good.  It is almost like a pumpkin alfredo…it is that rich and creamy.

The sauce is thick and delicious.  You will want to eat it like soup.  I have been known to skip the noodle part all together.

Even if you think this recipe sounds weird….pumpkin with pasta??....You have to try it.  I have never steered you wrong.  You will love it, and it will be your fall “go-to” sauce.  Your kids will love it too!

I will see you on Thursday with another quick, easy weeknight meal!

Pumpkin Cream Sauce

4 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup chicken stock or broth

1 cup Philadelphia Cooking Crème

½ cup half and half

½ cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon pepper

In a medium sized pot, melt butter.  Add garlic and shallot and sauté over medium heat until shallot is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add pumpkin, stock, cooking cream, half and half and parmesan cheese.  Simmer over medium heat until cheeses are melted, stirring frequently.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Serve over pasta.  Top with frizzled sage.

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