Creamy Pumpkin “Pasta”

And here we are, back at the grind.  I hope all of my U.S. readers had a lovely holiday – I know I did.  It was hard to come back to work this morning; we did a whole lot of nothing over the extended weekend, aside from cooking our Thanksgiving meal, which was delicious, and decorating the house for the season.  If you’re a long-time reader here, you know that entails the placing and positioning of a great many Santas and snowmen, as well as the decorating of two trees.  We had The G Man over to help, and it was so much fun – he’d never seen Meema’s house decorated for the holiday season (at least that he can remember) and was just enchanted with the “family” tree, especially the Hallmark ornaments that play music and light up.  Needless to say, most of the “cool” ornaments occupy the bottom third of the tree.

For our holiday decorating party, I made pizza for dinner (I’m attempting to perfect a gluten-free crust; it’s getting better), and had some sweet Italian sausage left over from that.  I also had a container of leftover roasted pumpkin pureé in the fridge, and began to wonder if there was anything I could do with those two particular ingredients besides making Pumpkin Sausage Soup.  A quick Google search gave me the answer – besides soup, pumpkin and Italian sausage are apparently quite good in pasta dishes.

Like Pumpkin Sausage Soup, there are a great many recipes on the internet for pumpkin-sausage pasta dishes, and no two are quite the same.  I perused a great many before deciding that since I wouldn’t be using “real” pasta, I might as well just make my own up.  So I did, and the results were very, very good.  This was surprisingly – to me, anyway – delicious.  Beloved and I both had seconds (which is rare for me) and we’ll polish off the leftovers for lunch today.

The amount of thyme may seem excessive, but don’t skimp on it – I just loved the fresh flavor it gave the dish; it complimented both the pumpkin and the sausage very well.  If you’d like to use a more conventional pasta in this dish, gluten-free or traditional, most recipes call for a large, sturdy shape, such as farfalle, rotini or penne.  And, as always, if  dairy doesn’t bother you, feel free to use heavy cream instead of coconut milk.  My non-pork-eating readers can use a turkey-based Italian sausage.

Creamy Pumpkin "Pasta"
Creamy Pumpkin “Pasta”
Creamy Pumpkin “Pasta”

Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds in the center. Add enough water to cover the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold both halves of the squash, and place the squash in the pan, cut side down. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or just until tender enough to be pierced with the tines of a fork. Take care not to overcook.
  3. While the squash is roasting, cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon, until cooked through and browned. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
  4. Drain the fat from the skillet and add the olive oil; reduce the heat to medium low and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and add the pumpkin, chicken stock, coconut milk, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the thyme to the skillet. Whisk until well-combined and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes .
  5. Once the squash is roasted, scrape out the flesh with a fork to make long strands, handling the hot squash with care. Add the squash and reserved sausage to the sauce in the pan and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sausage is heated through.
  6. Divide between 6 wide, shallow bowls and garnish with the remaining thyme and Parmesan cheese, if using. Serve immediately.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 424 calories, 33g total fat, 70mg cholesterol, 1199.5mg sodium, 635.2mg potassium, 18.9g carbohydrates, 4.2g fiber, 7.1g sugar, 15g protein

 

Maple Butternut Squash Souffle

I know it’s still pretty hot in some parts of the country, but here in northeast Ohio the hot weather is (mostly) gone; some of the trees have even begun to lose their leaves.  The farmers markets are starting to burst at the seams with the beginnings of the fall harvest, and there are all sorts of goodies available, including a variety of winter squashes.

I never ate winter squashes growing up – my mother never bought or prepared them.  I’m not sure if she was intimidated by them (I know I was the first time I cooked one), or if she simply never had the opportunity to cook one.  Thinking back, I don’t remember seeing many of them in the grocery stores in Dallas so, like me, she it may just never have occurred to her that they might be worthy of feeding her family.

It wasn’t until I’d met Beloved that I came face-to-face with my first winter squash – an acorn squash that I simply halved, seeded and baked with a touch of butter and brown sugar.  I loved it, but it wasn’t until we moved to Podunk that I began cooking and consuming winter squashes with any regularity; they are as ubiquitous here as okra and black-eye peas are down South.

We picked up several varieties of winter squashes on Saturday – acorn, butternut, delicata and spaghetti, plus a couple that I’ve forgotten the names of – and made this dish Friday night.  It is pretty easy as souffles go, had a light yet creamy texture and was absolutely delicious.  It’s going in the regular dinner rotation this fall and winter, along with another squash recipe I’ll post later this week.  It would also be an excellent addition to a holiday meal; I’m tempted to serve it with the standing rib roast I will serve for Christmas dinner.  You can bake it in six 6-ounce individual souffle dishes for a nicer presentation.

Note: Winter squashes are a bit carbier than summer varieties, so I used a little maple flavoring (found with the extracts in the spice aisle of your grocery store) in this dish to boost the flavor of the small amount of maple syrup used.  You can leave it out and include a full 1/4 cup of maple syrup if you’d like it sweeter.

This reheats really well the next day.

Butternut Squash Souffle

Maple Butternut Squash Souffle

serves 6

2 pounds butternut squash

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 eggs, separated and at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375º F; butter a 2 quart souffle dish.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place cut sides down on a microwavable plate and cook on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until soft. When cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out pulp and place in a large mixing bowl with the butter, maple syrup, maple flavoring and nutmeg; mash with a potato masher until well-blended.

With a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored; stir beaten yolks into squash mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and gently fold into the squash mixture. Spoon into the souffle dish and bake 20 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned.

Serve immediately.

Printable version (requires Adobe Reader)

Maple Butternut Squash Souffle on Foodista