From the time the leaves begin to change, this recipe is put on the regular dinner rotation in our house. And without fail, as my family sits silently gobbling it up, my husband will pause for a second and say ‘You know, this is one of my favorites.’ It’s one of my favorites too. It’s creamy (without using cream!) and comforting with a hint of warm fall spices. The fact that I can have it on the table in less than an hour is just an added benefit.
The mushrooms in this Pumpkin Sausage Pasta recipe are optional, but I encourage you to try them. When cooked properly, and I’ll show you how, sautéed mushrooms can almost taste like bacon…bacon that’s full of vitamins and won’t clog your arteries! There’s not many used in this recipe, but they give the dish an added depth of flavor that you can’t get anywhere else.
Notice, aside from the spicy Italian chicken sausage and the mushrooms, these ingredients are things you probably already have on hand. I keep sausage in my freezer at all times, and the shallots last for-e-ver in my pantry, so the only ingredient you may need a special trip to the grocery store for is the mushrooms.
Dice up a shallot like so, just like you would an onion.
Then grab a friend and ask them to chop up some mushrooms any way they like.
Oh my word, look at those tiny little angel hands! My heart be still… :sigh:
In a large saute pan over medium to medium high heat, brown the sausage (casings removed) until no longer pink in a little olive oil. Then add the shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes.
Now, add the bay leaf, sage, and garlic. Cook for one minute until the garlic is fragrant. Well, hello there Mr. Sausage Face!
And yes, if you must know, I use bottled minced garlic in the fall and winter. In the spring and summer, there is nothing like chopping a big fresh, maybe/hopefully purple skinned, clove of garlic. But I will not waste my time battling with the skin of four tiny cloves of winter garlic, just so I can get the equivalent of one clove. I will not do it. And guess what, no one knows except me. And now you. So, keep it to yourself please.
Moving on- add the wine to the pan, and let it reduce for 2-3 minutes. Then add the pumpkin, chicken stock and milk, season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then stir to combine.
Oh. My. Goodness. Does that not look divine? My little girl says, ‘momma, this tastes just like mac and cheese!’ It does not. It tastes waaaay better than mac and cheese, but it is a beautiful, lovely orange, and to her, orange=mac and cheese.
So, this is your pumpkin pasta sauce. Now, you could just allow this to simmer for 10-15 minutes while you cook up any type of pasta that you like. But we want that extra layer of flavor, so let’s saute some mushrooms!
Add a tablespoon of butter to a saute pan over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally.
There are many people that say to wait until the mushrooms are browned before you add salt, as salt draws the liquid out of the mushrooms. I say, this is hogwash. The mushrooms cannot begin to brown until the liquid is pulled from them, so season in the beginning and you’ll have perfectly brown mushrooms in half the time.
As the mushrooms cook, a good amount of liquid will appear in the pan. Keep cooking. Finally, all of the liquid will evaporate. Keep cooking. Do not stop cooking the mushrooms until they are a deep golden brown. If the mushrooms are limp and grey, they have not been cooked long enough. I wholeheartedly believe this is why so many people claim to hate mushrooms. They are one of the simplest vegetables to cook, but you have to cook them until they are deeply browned. Don’t stop too soon! Limp, grey mushrooms are gross. I wouldn’t want to eat them either!
I’ve read that you ‘cannot burn mushrooms.’ Well, I would not go as far to say that, but I will say, fear not. You will know when they are ready. Think bacon. You want the mushrooms to be the color of perfectly crisp bacon.
Quite a transformation, right? I have to hide these from my husband, or he will nibble on them until there are none left. Come to think of it, he does the same thing with bacon…coincidence? Make these mushrooms, and then you decide!
Combine the pasta, pumpkin sausage sauce, and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper as needed, and let simmer on low heat for a minute or two so the pasta can absorb some of the flavor from the sauce. We really like the texture of trotolle pasta in this dish, but any kind of short cut pasta will do.
Pile into pasta bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley and grated parmesan.
Nothing hits the spot after a long day like this dish. Ready in less than an hour, its fancy enough for company, and comforting enough to eat on the couch in your PJs. You do you.
Just do yourself a favor, and make this pasta! Make it one time, and I bet it will be on your dinner rotation as well.
- 1 lb Hot Italian Chicken Sausage, casings removed
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp rubbed sage
- 1 cup white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
- 1 cup no salt added chicken stock
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- ½ cup milk
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- 16 oz trotolle pasta, or any short cut pasta
- Parmesan and fresh parsley for garnish
- In a large saute pan over medium high heat, brown the sausage in a little olive oil until cooked through.
- Add the shallots to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the bay leaf, sage and garlic to the pan. Cook for one minute.
- Pour in the wine, and allow to reduce by half, around 5 minutes.
- Pour in the stock, pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and simmer over medium low heat while you cook the mushrooms and pasta.
- In a separate saute pan over medium high heat, add one tablespoon of butter and the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the mushrooms until the liquid has been extracted and evaporated, and the mushrooms are a deep golden brown.
- Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions.
- Combine the pasta, pumpkin sauce, and mushrooms in the pasta pot and simmer over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Garnish with grated parmesan and chopped fresh parsley.