Tuesday, December 16, 2008
penne with pumpkin sauce
As fall segues into winter (and yes, even in California this seems to be happening), a nice rich dish of saucy pasta seemed like just the thing. This is a recipe I've been wanting to try for a while, ever since I saw Rachael Ray make it on 30 minute meals. And it is incredibly easy.
Now before I go any further, I have to address the Rachael Ray Controversy. I know there are a lot of people out there who hate her. I'm talking about something beyond dislike. They *hate* her. (Which by my mother's definition means they wish Rachael would die, but I don't think they mean it that way. At least I hope they don't.) I understand that Rachael's perpetual perkiness can wear on you if you watch her for too long, and that her cutesy nicknames for things do inspire some rolling of the eyes.
My counter arguments are these: she seems like a genuinely nice person, and more importantly, she gets people like me to really love cooking. Those of us who thought our culinary prowess might be limited to some prepackaged meals from Trader Joe's, well, we ventured out of the (admittedly delicious) haze of TJ's and into the produce section of our grocery stores. She made real cooking approachable and fun. And even as I like to think I am growing into a decent cook, I still love making her recipes, many of which populate my list of favorites. Bottom line is that she was the gateway drug that led me to a hard-core addiction to cooking. And I am eternally grateful. So expect to see her recipes in this blog fairly frequently. I promise not to use any of her catch phrases, apart from calling extra virgin olive oil "EVOO," which just makes good sense.
I tweaked her recipe a little, and here is my version. I know not everyone loves a creamy sauce, but this one manages to be rich and hearty without being too heavy or cloying. The end result is a subtly sophisticated flavor with just a hint of delicious spiciness. Definitely do not skip the hot pepper sauce, as it makes the dish.
Penne with Pumpkin Sauce
Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, October 2007
1/4 pound whole wheat penne (enough for 2 people)
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
3/4 cups chicken or veggie broth
1/3 of a 15 oz can of pure pumpkin puree; about 2/3 cup
splash of heavy cream (about 2 tablespoons)
a few drops of hot pepper sauce (more if you want it spicy)
pinch of nutmeg
3 leaves fresh sage, thinly sliced
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the EVOO in a skillet. Add shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken/veggie broth and cream. Add hot sauce and nutmeg; season liberally with salt and pepper. (Taste to make sure it has enough kick). Let simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in half of the sage.
3. Toss the pasta with the sauce, top with remaining sage.