Meatless Monday Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

Come fall, “make pumpkin pasta” automatically finds its way onto my “to do” list.  I start craving it around Labor day, but make myself wait until the leaves begin to turn all kinds of fall colors and the air takes on that definite fall chill.  Then I’m all over it.

Oh, this is good stuff, folks, and it just seemed like the perfect fall dish for Meatless Monday.  I love pumpkin anything, but this may be my very favorite way to eat it.  What we have here is a creamy pumpkin sauce spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and flecked with fresh sage.  It shouldn’t, but it all just works together.  Really well.

I’ve been making this for a few years now, and over time I’ve played with the flavors a little.  Pumpkin has great flavor potential, but on its own it can be rather lacking.  So I’ve bumped up the amount of spice and added goat cheese, which brings a lovely tang to the party.  I’ve cut back on the broth, which further concentrated the flavors, and added some kick with a little crushed red pepper.  With a light dusting of grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh sage, our mousy pumpkin pasta took on some attitude!  Here’s the recipe….

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray

Click here for a printable recipe

1 pound campanelle or penne pasta

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, grated

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)

One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree

1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half

2 to 3 oz goat cheese

1 tsp salt

½ tsp fresh cracked pepper (or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 ½ tablespoon of chopped fresh sage

Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots, crushed red pepper (if using), and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the  broth, pumpkin, salt, pepper and cream. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk in the goat cheese and 1 tablespoon of the fresh sage.  Lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Can add a little of the Parmesan cheese here if you like.

Toss the pasta with the sauce, cover and let sit off the heat for 5 minutes or so.  Place in a serving bowl and top with the remaining fresh sage and a good dusting of the Parmesan cheese.  Serve with additional Parmesan cheese at the table.