Everyone has their own slightly unique way of celebrating a particular season or holiday. Take for example my good friends Teenie and Max. The two of them have come up with a fall celebration that is so amazing, I put it right up there with Festivis and National Chocolate Day (it exists, look it up).
A visit to Germany last October and a love of all things made with pumpkin created the annual Pumpkin/Oktoberfest extravaganza – Teenie hits up the German store for sausages and other authentic delights, while also cooking up lots of her German heritage, including spaetzle and goulash. Then there are the pumpkin inspired dishes guests show up with, which range from everything to coconut pumpkin curry soup to pumpkin hummus and pumpkin cookies. And of course to wash down all of this amazing food, there is lots and lots of cold beer!
Each year that I go to this party I make a pumpkin pasta dish that is literally gone within an hour of placing it on the table. So this year, by request, I made a double batch and took home an extremely clean bowl. I don’t know how else to describe this dish than to call it an Italian Thanksgiving Pasta – turkey sausage with a creamy pumpkin sauce that is seasoned with fresh sage, all on top of penne pasta. And of course topped with lots of fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
The dish is not overly complicated, it’s delicious and whether you’re bringing it to someone’s gathering or having it at you’re own, you will end up with a clean bowl afterwards. Guaranteed.
1 pound ground turkey meat
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 tablespoon dry basil
1 tablespoon dry parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs sage leaves, cut
1 cup dry white wine (chardonnay or sauvignon blanc works well)
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne, cooked to al dente
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for topping
In a bowl, combine the turkey meat, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic power, salt and ground pepper. Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the turkey meat in it, constantly cutting the meat up with a spoon to separate into small pieces. Cook for a couple minutes, just until you start to see almost all of the meat brown (you are adding back in the meat later to cook with ingredients so ok to have some pieces undercooked).
Transfer cooked meat to a bowl. Drain fat from the skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minute until the onions are tender. Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 3 minutes.
Add the pumpkin and stock and stir to combine, letting the sauce come to a bubble. Return the ground turkey meat to the pan, reduce heat to low and stir in the cream. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.
Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaves from sauce and pour over the pasta. Combine sauce and pasta, mixing in the 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese and tasting for any additional salt that needs to be added (you be the judge on this one). Top with more cheese when serving.