Pumpkin and Spicy Sausage Over Pasta

pumpkinpastaThis recipe is from my friend Jeanne. Like many recipes I get, it wasn’t written down. She said something like, “Cook up some spicy Italian sausage, add garlic, onions and pureed pumpkin and then toss it all with pasta.” If you want a few more details, keep reading.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped kale (or other green)
1 1/2 cup puréed pumpkin (see Baking a Pumpkin Whole post)
Salt, pepper to taste
1 pound penne, cooked
Parmigiano, grated


  • In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add sausage and olive oil and cook until well browned.
  • Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate to drain. Drain most of the fat from skillet (leave a little to cook the garlic and onions). Add the garlic and onion. Sauté over medium heat for three to five minutes or until the onions are tender. Add kale.
  • Add sausage and pumpkin purée and stir to combine. If sauce is too thick, add a little water or stock. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once thoroughly heated, add sausage and pumpkin mix to cooked pasta and toss. Top with grated cheese.

Serves four.

Click here to read my About Pumpkin post.

Pistachio Pesto

Purists make pesto by hand using a mortar and pestle. Pesto is derived from the Latin word “pesta, which means “to pound, to crush.” They say that hand-pounding pesto keeps the flavors distinct and it releases more of the oil from the basil, so the pesto is more flavorful.

My husband and I have raced to see who could make pesto faster- me, with a mortar and pestle; he with a food processor. The rule was it had to include cleaning and putting away the food processor. I’m pretty sure I won, but he may remember it differently.

Either way, you can whip up a batch in less time than it takes to walk the dog around the block.

I like to make my pesto with pistachios. It gives it a great color. My husband likes to make his with toasted pecans and jalapenos. Yu-uum. You can follow the basic recipe and experiment with different ingredients.

Here’s what you need:
2-3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/4- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pistachio nuts
2-3 garlic cloves
a dash or two of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

When hand pounding, start off pounding the garlic and coarse salt, then add about 1/3 of the nuts and 1/3 of the basil. I keep one hand sort of cupped around the top of the mortar to keep the nuts from flying out. Keep adding the nuts and basil. Once those are pounded to a very course paste, stir in the oil and cheese last.

With a food processor, just put everything in and give it a whirl.

Chopped basil will oxidize and turn brown. To prevent this, cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil before you store it in the fridge (it will keep, covered with plastic wrap, for about a week).

Pesto is great, of course, tossed in pasta, but is equally as good on chicken, pork, fish or pizza.

I like to make a big batch and freeze it. You can freeze pesto in ice cube trays. Then store the frozen cubes in a bag so you can grab a few when you need them. I usually make small pesto balls (like drop cookies), freeze them on a cookie sheet, then throw them in a freezer bag.

Once winter comes around, you’ll be happy you froze a little bit of summer.