pasta

Creamy Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta

I’m a sucker for all things pumpkin, and I loved the idea of combining it with sausage for a spicy kick. This 2-pot dish came together in under 20 minutes, perfect for a weeknight.

The original recipe called for fennel,  which is not my thing; cubed, roasted squash would also be a good addition. I prefer saucier skillet dishes rather than baked, but do what you like. Don’t overseason: the flavors will intensify as the dish cooks.

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Creamy Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta

Inspired by Leave A Happy Plate
Serves 4-5

1/2 lb whole wheat shell or other short pasta
1/2 lb spicy ground pork sausage
1/2 cup 1% or 2% plain Greek yogurt
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
2/3 cup Half and Half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Red pepper flakes, if desired
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

If you like baked pasta, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and oil, stopping 1 minute early. Drain.

In a large oven-proof skillet, brown and crumble sausage. Drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk togther yogurt, pumpkin, Half and Half, seasonings and Parmesan.

Toss pasta and sausage in the skillet. Pour sauce on top, stirring to combine. If baking, top with additional Parmesan, if desired, and place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Otherwise, heat on the stove over medium-low heat until heated through. 

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Fusilli with Raw Tomato Sauce

With all due respect to my tomato-loving friends, I just can’t eat raw tomatoes. They’re squishy and gooey (and NOT in a good way). Or, so I thought.

When I received this month’s issue of Bon Appetit, one of the first things that caught my eye was a feature story about a summer vacation in Tuscany, including a gorgeous photo of a pasta dish with a no-cook tomato sauce.

We’ll get there in a minute. But first, can we talk about how much we Americans could learn from the Italians about how to vacation? When I traveled through New Zealand, it was painfully obvious just how much I had to learn about vacation, including the fact that it’s a verb. I think my next lesson on how to properly vacation should come in Tuscany. Preferably from a hot Italian man.

The author describes a month-long vacation in the Tuscan hills, complete with sunny 90-degree days and bottomless glasses of prosecco, concluding with this gem: “As it often does, lunch will meander for a good hour or two, ending with figs from the tree. And then, of course, it’s time for that nap. Or maybe a dip in the pool.”

Yep… definitely practicing my vacation skills in Italy.

Anyway, back to that pasta. It couldn’t be simpler: good-quality olive oil and vinegar, tomatoes, fresh basil, salt and pepper. Always buy the best quality ingredients you can afford, but especially for simple recipes with few ingredients.

I cut the recipe in half. Forgive me. For me, pasta is best as an occasional indulgence rather than a diet staple, and I was trying a food I don’t typically like, after all. A week later, I found myself back at the market, making another batch.

If only I’d picked up another bottle of prosecco.

Fusilli with Raw Tomato Sauce

From Bon Appetit, August 2012

3/4 cup (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved, pulp discarded, flesh cut into 3/4″ pieces
3/4 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fusilli or other spiral-shaped or twisted pasta

Whisk 3/4 cup oil and both vinegars in a large bowl to blend. Add chopped tomatoes. Using a potato masher or your hands, slightly crush tomatoes to bruise and release juices. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover bowl and let tomatoes marinate at room temperature for 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain; return pasta to pot and add to tomato mixture; stir to evenly incorporate. Let pasta stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes to allow pasta to absorb flavors from sauce. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with more oil, if desired.