Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin and Kale Pasta with Sausage

It's always dangerous to cook a recipe that you've never tried before when you're having guests for dinner.

But I like to live on the edge.

And I'm so glad I do.

This dish knocked my socks off. I don't consider myself a good cook (in fact, that's sort of the whole point of this blog), but I really outdid myself on this one. I enjoyed this more than just about any meal I've had -- at home OR in a restaurant -- in a very long time. It took a lot of time to chop and prepare everything, but it was absolutely worth it. Especially the fresh pumpkin cubes.

I found this recipe for "Fall Favorite Pumpkin Kale Sausage Pappardelle Pasta" and followed it almost exactly. I subbed in whole-wheat spirals for pappardelle, low-sodium vegetable stock for chicken stock, and fresh sage for dried.

1 package of whole-wheat pasta
1 pound, ground Italian pork sausage
2 cups, peeled & seeded pumpkin – cut into small cubes
1 bunch of green kale, trimmed w/ ribs removed, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups, low-sodium vegetable stock
2 shallots, chopped thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup, dry white wine
fresh sage
fresh rosemary
2 tsp, dried red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper, to taste
shaved Parmessan

Cook the entire package of pasta as per the instructions on the box – strain and set aside.

On stove top, warm a large skillet on a medium-high heat, then add the tbsp. of olive oil.
When the oil is heated, reduce heat slightly and add the sausage. Cook sausage until it is mostly browned, about five minutes.

Move sausage to the edges of the pan, and add a little more olive oil (if needed – there may be enough fat from the sausage to do the trick!) – then add the garlic and the shallots.
Cook until the shallots become translucent and garlic becomes fragrant.

Mix the sausage, shallots, and garlic together.

Add the cubed pumpkin, rosemary, sage, and red pepper flakes and stir.

Add the white wine and slightly reduce heat – allow to cook for about 5 minutes, alllowing the wine to simmer, stirring often.

Add the vegetable stock and stir.

Cook sausage and pupmkin in stock at a simmer, for an additional 8 minutes or so – allowing the stock to reduce.

Add the kale and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Toss the pasta in the mix and allow the pasta to heat.

Season w/ salt + pepper until desired flavor is achieved. [I skipped this step and allowed folks to salt and pepper at the table].

Serve hot – topped with a generous helping of shaved Parmessan.

This was such a rich, colorful dish. The sausage is more of an indulgence than I normally allow, but it was three sausages spread over the entire meal, which served four for dinner and left four more servings as leftovers. The pumpkin and kale really came to the center, while the sausage and pasta served as background.

This dish was spicy, warm, and absolutely perfect for a cool, fall evening with friends. I'm so glad I took a chance on a new recipe! I will definitely make this one again!

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