December 12, 2009

Sausage & Pasta In Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

When I think of pumpkin I immediately day dream about autumn. Flavorful pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins - all of them scream autumn to me. Even though canned pumpkin is so easily accessible throughout the entire year I rarely break out a can outside the months of October and November. This year, even though it seems autumn has skipped right by us and we're sitting here under layers of blankets, I cannot let go of my pumpkin. With Christmas marathon baking in full swing I wanted anything but another cupcake, muffin or cookie.

That's why I decided that with my last half a can of Libby's I would make something like no other pumpkin dish I have ever made. A savory plate of creamy pumpkin goodness. And even better, it will have cheese, mmmm sweet and silky cream cheese and a nice nutty parmesan, that's it - I can't wait any longer. So I figured a creamy pumpkin cheese sauce over pasta was just what my tummy ordered...but then I remembered I had some Italian sausage hanging around. Hmmm, pumpkin and sausage (oh yes, it works my friends) perfect. So I browned up some sausage with diced onion, starting off on the right foot if I do say so!

But then it got better because butter, cream cheese and parmesan joined the party. I could have stopped here and been perfectly happy with this drowning my pasta, but why would I do that!? I still have milk, pumpkin (oh my sweet pumpkin) and nutmeg hanging out on the counter. So into the hot tub they went, pure happiness I tell you.

No party is complete without a here's where we call in the pasta.

Then you toss it all together and you get the cheesiest, creamiest pumpkin pasta - with sausage - you have ever had. And it's good, oh so good that there is no reason to wait any longer to gobble this up. But first you'll have to cook it I suppose. So here you are, get cooking!

Sausage & Pasta In Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

8 oz (1/2 box) penne pasta
1/2 lb sweet (or spicy) Italian sausage
1/2 medium onion, diced
4 oz Neufchatel (or cream cheese)
1/4 C (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
1/3 C milk
3/4 C pureed pumpkin (I used canned)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage and onion until sausage is no longer pink. Add Neufchatel and butter and stir until melted. Add parmesan, milk, pumpkin and seasonings to the skillet.

Cook until heated through and well combined, stirring often. Add pasta to the skillet and toss well to combine. Serve with additional parmesan if desired.

(serves 4)

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