TSP Original: Cavatappi Pasta with Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage
MUSIC PAIRING: Robbie Gil, Save Yourself
People! It’s FALL. My absolute favorite season. When you live in a walking city and summer is full of muggy, swampy humidity, Fall is like a hug you can only get from your mom. Fall brings crisp air, comfy sweaters and pumpkin goodies, sweet and savory.
I know there are pumpkin haters out there and you know what? I’m giving them the stinkeye. I don’t complain when melon lovers rave about the goodness of cantaloupe in the summer just because I don’t like it. No, I accept that there are folks in this world who don’t share my melon disdain and I don’t judge them. So, pumpkin haters, let’s be civil and co-exist harmoniously this Fall season, shall we?
A few years ago, Allison and I started one of my favorite yearly traditions: pumpkin carving! She and I both deeply love tradition. We use any excuse to create new ones in addition to celebrating tried and true old ones. Pumpkin carving makes you feel like a kid again. I most definitely have a youthful spirit so stuff like this genuinely makes me happy. Our carving tradition also consists of me cooking a new, original pumpkin dish so we tie pumpkin in all around for Fall. I love it.
Being that this dish I do each year is always a recipe that I’ve created, it got me thinking. I’m a culinary school graduate who is now writing a food blog. Shouldn’t some of my recipes be on the site instead of only adaptations? This led me to the idea of writing ‘The Salty Peach Original’. Each month, I’ll post one of my own recipes that I’ve created. This way, my brain stays challenged and my culinary skills sharpened. Hopefully you’ll like what I come up with! If not, just pretend.
Last night, Allison hosted me and our dear friend, Colleen, for the 2014 pumpkin extravaganza. Colleen, of Colleen Putman Photography, has been one of my best friends here in NYC for years. She’s responsible for the lovely photos you see in my banner slideshow and ‘about me’ section! Colleen and I are very like-minded and have been supportive of one another’s passions forever. Back in 2011, before I had gone to culinary school and she had built her photography business, we did a fun photo shoot together to show off both of our skills. Since then, we’ve grown leaps and bounds in our respective passions and supported each other every step of the way. Lucky for me, both she and Allison are always willing to be taste testers for new recipes of mine so I tied up my apron strings and debuted this yummy pumpkin pasta recipe. It’s comforting, rich and layered with flavor. Pretty much the only kind of food I want to eat during Fall and Winter.
Why Robbie Gil? Robbie is a local musician in the city that me, Colleen and Allison have been going to see since 2007. I Love. Him. His music is raw, soulful, resonating and authentic. His lyrics makes me feel and I often need that while I’m cooking. Not every day in the kitchen is sunshine and rainbows, folks. Sometimes – a lot of times! – I can feel frustrated, doubtful and “less than” in the kitchen. Something about Robbie’s music makes me remember that, as he says in one of my favorite songs, “our little lives have so much meaning”. I needed some Robbie while coming up with and cooking this recipe. As a bonus, he makes me think warmly of Allison and Colleen. Meant to be, eh?
Special thanks to Allison for picking out the most delicious wine(s) to go along with dinner!
- 1 to 1.25 pound(s) hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup brandy or cognac
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Few grates of fresh nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, divided
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 2 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped just before using
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 pound cavatappi pasta
- Brown sausage in a medium skillet, breaking it up into chunks as it cooks. Set pan aside off the heat.
- While the sausage is cooking, heat a separate large sauté pan, preferably with a lid (you can use foil to cover otherwise), for a minute or so over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter melts, add the onion and shallot and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. You don’t want to brown the onion mixture, just cook until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
- Once the onion mixture is softened and seasoned, turn the heat up to high for about 30 seconds and then add the brandy. If you’re using a gas stove, you’ll want to turn the heat off completely before adding the brandy to avoid any flare-ups and then turn back on to medium-high heat after it’s added. Cook the alcohol out for about two minutes while scraping up all the good bits from the bottom of the pan. This is called deglazing! Once deglazed, add the onion mixture to the pan with the sausage and stir to combine.
- In the same pan you cooked the onions in, add the can of pumpkin and whisk in the vegetable stock, one cup at a time. Add the cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and red pepper flakes. Season well with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. Be careful, the mixture tends to sputter when you remove the lid.
- Stir in coconut milk and the remaining teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. When that is incorporated, stir in mascarpone cheese. Taste and season again to your preference with salt and pepper. Add the combined sausage and onion mixture along with the fresh sage. Cover and cook over low heat while you boil your pasta.*
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add four or five good handfuls of coarse sea salt to the water. Cook the pasta until al dente which is about three minutes less than the package cooking time. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid before draining.
- In the pan you cooked the sausage in, add half of the pasta water and half of the cooked cavatappi. Stir to coat over medium heat and then add desired amount of pumpkin sausage sauce. Stir to combine. Dish into bowls and repeat with the rest of the pasta water, cavatappi and sauce. Serve garnished with fresh sage.
- Leftovers will keep nicely in the fridge for up to five days.
- *Properly seasoned pasta is the secret to any amazing pasta dish. There is only one way to season the pasta itself which is in the water as it cooks. Pasta is not like rice. It actually absorbs very little water so your cooking water should be, as our culinary school chefs would say, “as salty as the sea.”
- This recipe is best cooked exactly as written. Each component is important so if you do choose to amend the recipe, I cannot guarantee the outcome. End of disclaimer. Resume wine drinking.