Pumpkin Pasta

If you bought one or two small pie pumpkins and happened to save them from turning into jack-o-lanterns, have I got a recipe for you! But I highly recommend even if you did carve your pumpkin (like me), you run out to the store and purchase a can of solid pumpkin. Pumpkin Pasta is delicious and tastes sinful- but is not. This recipe is perfect for a cold, cloudy day, which we seem to be having more and more of lately.

I used ground chicken as the protein, but you can definitely substitute ground turkey, sausage, or go meatless. I also mixed the light and dark meat- about 3/4 pound ground chicken breast and 1/4 pound ground chicken thigh.

If you are using a fresh pumpkin, here is what you do to get the equivalent to one regular-sized can:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Take about 2 smallish sugar pie pumpkins. Wash the pumpkins, cut off the ends and cut them in half.
  • Scoop out the seeds and save for roasting, if desired. 
  • Lay the pumpkins cut side down in a sprayed or oiled baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until tender, about 45 minutes.
  • Cool, then scoop the filling out into a bowl or food processor. If using the old fashioned method, use a potato masher to smash pumpkins. 

This should give you about 2 cups, depending on the size of your pumpkins. Now onto the pasta!

Pumpkin Pasta

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta, shape of your choice (can also substitue gluten-free pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 pound ground chicken or ground turkey or a mix of the two
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree (or your fresh pumpkin above)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Dash nutmeg (this is a powerful spice so really only use a dash)
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup carmelized onions*
  • 3 to 4 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and chopped (may use turkey bacon)
  • How To:

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta and a few pinches salt. Cook until al dente and drain.

    While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skilliet over medium heat. Add the ground chicken, garlic, pinch of salt and cayenne. Break up chicken bits with your spoon, as if you were making sloppy joe. Once the chicken is no longer pink, add the broth, pumpkin, and cream and stir to combine. Mixture will become creamy. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

    Stir in the sage. If the sauce appears to be dry, add more chicken broth tablespoons at a time. Add the pasta and cheese and toss. Top individual portions with more cheese and the bacon bits.

    * To make carmelized onions: Slice one large sweet onion. Heat small skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to keep onions from sticking. If the skillet looks dry you can add oil (or I add water) 1 teaspoon at a time.  When onions are very soft and have browned/carmelized you can remove from stove. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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