October 19, 2012
Well, by now you should be aware of an on going theme with our recipes: Pumpkin! And, this one is no exception. On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I noticed that they were carrying a new pasta sauce made with pumpkin and was immediately inspired to concoct my own at home. After all, I tend to steer away from prepared foods at the grocery store. Fortunately, we had some pumpkin puree leftover from a few nights ago and so making this dish was super easy. If you do not have homemade pumpkin puree just sitting around the house, just use a can, it is not the end of the world. The sauce is naturally sweetened by the pumpkin puree and so unlike most tomato based sauces, there is no need to add sugar to this one. We served it with some mild italian sausage to give the dish a little protein and a bit of spice and mixed the sauce with some fettuccine. I tend to prefer the wider pasta noodles for tomato based sauces. Linguini would do the trick as well. However, I would stay away from the very thin pastas like capellini since it can be very very hard to get the noodles cooked perfectly.
Our beer pairing for the fettuccine with a creamy pumpkin sauce was a natural choice: Rogue’s First Growth Pumpkin Patch Ale from the Chatoe Rogue series of beers. If you are not familiar with the Chatoe Rogue beers, they are beers brewed with only ingredient harvested from Rogue’s farms. They also like to call it GYO, which is short for Grow Your Own. The point here is that you can make wonderful, tasty beers and be sustainable too. Everything from the hops to the barley (and in this case the pumpkins too) come straight from Rogue’s own facilities. The beer is a fantastic accompaniment because it has a subtle sweetness and an almost creamy mouthfeel that bodes well with the creamy pumpkin sauce. You likely have not seen this one on your local beer store’s shelves yet since it was just recently released. And, rightly so. I strongly believe that the best pumpkin beers are released later in the season. This should makes sense since you need the freshly grown pumpkins to make the beer. So, if you are buying a pumpkin beer in, oh, say the end of August for the beginning of September, chances are they are either not using pumpkin at all (just pumpkin pie spices) or using canned pumpkin. The best flavors come through when using fresh pumpkins (or even butternut squash) in the brewing process. So, the moral of the story is that good things come to those who are patient, especially when we are talking about pumpkin beers.
Enjoy this fantastic take on an Italian classic that we have revitalized with some sweet and creamy pumpkin puree. Note that there is some vodka in the sauce and if you are not inclined to cook with alcohol, feel free to substitute it with chicken stock or chocken broth.
- ¾ pound mild italian sausage (casing removed)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ½ cup vodka
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 3 cups pumpkin puree (either from a can or homemade)
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 pound fettuccine
- ¼ pound parmesan cheese (shredded)
- In a high-walled skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage, cooking until you cannot see any pink (6-7 minutes). Remove the sausage from the pan and transfer to a small bowl using a slotted spoon (be sure to reserve as much of the rendered fat as possible).
- Add the olive oil to the rendered fat and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the shallots and cook until translucent (4-5 minutes). Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for another minute or two.
- Add the vodka to deglaze. While the vodka is simmering add the thyme, basil, and nutmeg. Allow the vodka to reduce by at least half before proceeding.
- Add the pumpkin puree and crushed tomatoes and stir well to fully combine. Once the sauce begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the fettuccine as per the packaging’s directions.
- Once the pasta is cooked, add the heavy cream to the sauce and stir to combine.
- To plate, mix a serving of pasta with the creamy pumpkin sauce to coat the noodles. Place on a plate and top with 2-3 tablespoons of the pumpkin sauce, a healthy serving of the italian sausage, and finally a tablespoon or two of shredded parmesan cheese.