Sunday, October 31, 2010

Creamy Pumpkin Penne with Italian Sausage

Haaaaappy Halloweeeeen! <---said in a spooky voice

Halloween was always my favorite holiday growing up (besides Casimir Pulaski Day--you Illinois folk know where it's at!) Who doesn't love dressing up in fun costumes, binging on candy, and having a costume parade during school?

As you get older, however, the ways of celebrating Halloween change. Fun costumes turn into slutty costumes, binging on candy turns into binging on alcohol, and costume parades during school turn into drunkenly stumbling down the street while in costume.

This year, my friend hosted a fun Halloween potluck at her house. I had no idea what to make! Since one of my friends already had claimed the always beloved dirt cups, I decided to look elsewhere.

When I think "simple, quick recipe" and "scary," naturally the first thing that comes to mind is Rachael Ray.

Normally, I don't put recipes on here if they are exactly the same as ones I find online. However, I will make an exception for this one. Rachael Ray's Pumpkin Penne with Sausage was unbelievably delicious, especially considering I normally don't like pumpkin or sausage! It was a huge hit at the potluck and definitely something I will make again.

So for today, I will put aside my dislike of Rachael Ray's stupid joke making, over-peppiness, tight unitard shirt wearing, ridiculous euphemism creating, and boring stories about her in-laws to give her mad props for this recipe. Grab your EVOO, garbage bowl, sammies, and stoups, and let's get cooking, kiddos!

  • 1 lb. box of penne. Rachel suggests whole wheat penne, but I hate whole wheat pasta.
  • 1 lb. bulk mild Italian sausage. They should have this in the grocery store, but if they only have the kind in the casing, just take the meat out of the casing.
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 bay leaf. I didn't use this cause I was too lazy to dig through my spices I brought home from Durham. It's in the original recipe and I'm sure it tastes great, but don't knock yourself out if you don't have any on hand.
  • 4-6 fresh sage leaves (or 1 tbsp. dried sage). The recipe calls for fresh, but I couldn't find any at the store. Apparently fresh sage is flying off the shelves these days.
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 15 oz. can pumpkin puree. You can usually find this in the baking aisle.
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream. My friend asked me what made the pasta so creamy. Cream usually does the trick.
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon. What?! In pasta? Yes, and it's delicious.
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg. See above.
  • 2 big ole handfuls of shredded parmesan cheese
Yeah, yeah, I know this looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's really not. And it's SO worth it! This makes a ton of pasta, but it freezes great. This is seriously one the of the better pasta dishes I have ever had. And it's Halloween-tastic.


Heat a large skillet to medium high and crumble your sausage in it. I have never worked with sausage before and discovered it doesn't crumble as easily as ground beef. Put some muscle in it!

You want nice, small pieces of sausage so they brown well. This is the only time you will hear me request small sausage (har har!)

Once the sausage is browned completely, put it on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up some of the excess grease.

Peel and chop up your onion and add it to the sausage grease in the skillet. That yummy fat is gonna flavor the whole sauce!

Once the onion is soft and translucent, add the minced garlic and the wine to the skillet. CRUNK!**

**I have decided that since Emeril gets to say BAM! every time he adds spices to a dish, I am now going to say CRUNK! every time alcohol is added.

Add your bay leaf and sage to the wine and let it all simmer until the wine reduces by about half, or about five minutes. Then stir in your chicken broth and pumpkin puree until it is smoothly incorporated.

Let the mixture bubble away for another five minutes or so. While you wait, you can bring a pot of water up to boil for your penne.

Lower the heat to medium low and stir in your cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the sausage crumbles back into the sauce. At this point, you can remove the bay leaf and drop your penne into the boiling water.

Let the sauce simmer until your pasta is cooked, or about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and mix it with the sauce. Add your big ole handfuls of parmesan cheese, garnish with some extra sage if you'd like, and dig in!

What are some of YOUR Halloween/fall favorites?


  1. this was freakin' delicious
    from, the dirt cup friend :)

  2. another tasty treat for Halloween. .It's over but I can't wait to try it=)
    my blog, healthy flat

  3. I made this last night with hot italian sausage. I think the spice was a nice contrast to the sweetness of the rest of the dish.

    Also, I was an idiot at the store and bought pumpkin pie filling instead of regular pumpkin mix. I'm not sure what the actual differences are, but I'm guessing they revolve around spices, most of which were already called for in the recipe. It still turned out great! Thanks for posting it! :-)