11.06.2010

Pumkin Mushroom Sage Sauce over Pasta




There is a passage in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” that describes the feelings one starts developing towards certain vegetables by the end of the season. I think this specific passage is about asparagus – those beautiful, sensual, green stalks that start jutting out from the dark earth in April. We await their arrival with impatience, and we know that, as soon as they arrive, we need to eat them. Then and there. If you wait too long, they lose that fresh only-in-season unmistakable taste of true asparagus. So you gobble them up. You throw them in everything imaginable, from salads to pizza to pasta to bread…until, by the end of the season, you can’t imagine ever eating another stalk. Which, of course, is the whole point of seasons, isn’t it? Because just when you think you can’t take it anymore, the earth stops giving you asparagus and starts tossing baskets full of tomatoes and zucchini at you. And the whole process starts over again.

In fall, my asparagus is the pumpkin. Those hard, round, bright orange fruits that bring to mind fall leaves, holidays, and magic carriages (yes, Cinderella was my favorite book when I was a child. My mother says she must have read it to me at least a thousand times. I think she may be kidding about that number…but I’m not sure).

And so this fall, I am warning you, you will get very sick of pumpkins. It’s starting; the recipes are piling up in my mind and I can feel them just about to reach the breaking point. They will soon start pouring out and showering you with pumpkin everythings…

…starting with a creamy pumpkin-mushroom-sage sauce tossed with pasta. Talk about comfort in a bowl. You add a glass of red wine and a crackling fireplace, and I promise you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone straight to cozy heaven.

This recipe however – let me be completely honest here – was my pre-attempt at delving into true pumpkin cooking. I have two very real, very beautiful pumpkins sitting on my kitchen floor waiting for me to take a knife to them.




But, no matter how excited I get at the thought of carving my first pumpkin of the season, there is also something a little daunting about the task. Or a lot daunting. So, at 8pm on a weeknight, when I got home and got ready to start dinner, I decided carving pumpkins was really more of a weekend task. This recipe, therefore, was made with good old canned pumpkin. It’s still 100% pumpkin, but I think we can all agree it never tastes quite as good as the in-season fresh kind. So, if you have fresh pumpkin on hand, by all means, use it here. Your taste buds will do an extra little dance.

This sauce gives you a small taste of what the season has in store. Let’s call it an opening act, or an amuse-gueule, to what the real fruit of fall will soon bring to the table.




Pumpkin Mushroom Sage Sauce over Pasta

This sauce is super simple and quick to make. It’s perfect for a busy weeknight or anytime you’re in the mood for some comfort food. And your vitamin A will be through the roof!

1 package gluten-free spaghetti or linguini
10 cloves garlic, pressed
20 sage leaves, chopped
2.5 tbsps butter
10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced (you can use any type of mushroom you like, but shiitakes are my favorite for taste and health benefits)
1 15 oz can 100% pure pumpkin
1.5 to 2 cups vegetable stock (depending on how thick you want the sauce)
3 oz cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan to serve with (optional)

Cook the pasta following the directions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the 0.5 tbsp butter in a heavy based frying pan and throw in the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium high heat until slightly brown and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes). Set aside.

In a large pot, sauté the garlic in the remaining butter for a minute (do not let brown). Stir in the sage leaves and cook one more minute. Add the canned pumpkin and the stock. Stir everything well, bring to boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cream cheese and stir well until the cheese is melted and everything is well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately over pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.

Enjoy cozily!

Serves 4

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