Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Pasta seems to be my go-to when I’m short on meal-preparation time. Not only does it cook in just minutes, but it pairs nicely with a variety of vegetables and sauces. Last week I made a sauce of penne, pumpkin and Parmesan.

When I came upon a recipe for pasta with a creamy pumpkin sauce in “the ski house cookbook,” by Tina Anderson and Sarah Pinneo, I was reminded of the delicately flavored butternut squash-filled ravioli with a sage-brown butter sauce that I had several years ago at I Nonni, an Italian restaurant in the Twin Cities.

That recipe in “the ski house cookbook” inspired Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce with flavors reminiscent of the butternut-squash-filled ravioli I swooned over years ago. I’m not a huge fan of sage, but when the flavor is infused into the dish as whole fresh leaves of the herb saute with some onion and then simmer in white wine, it becomes a whisper that is just loud enough to detect, but not overbearing. For me, the slight essence of sage in the sauce is just right.

This pasta dish is a great example of how the versatile pumpkin feels very comfortable in both sweet and savory foods.

Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce is seasonal, savory and simply delicious.

Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

  • 1 pound uncooked penne
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh whole sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup white wine or apple cider
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (no added seasonings), either from a can or some of your own cooked pumpkin
  • 1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Toasted walnuts, broken

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use plenty of water. My Italian friend, Carmie, says to use lots of water for best results when cooking pasta. Once the water has come to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt. Stir in the penne and cook for about 10 minutes or until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and saute for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and whole sage leaves and saute for another minute. Add wine and cook until liquid has almost disappeared. Add chicken broth and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove sage leaves and discard. Stir in pumpkin a spoonful at a time and blend well between each addition. Stir in heavy cream and half of the Parmesan.

Drain cooked pasta. Combine with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and some toasted walnuts. Use as many nuts as you like. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Tip from the cook

Toast walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 6 minutes, until fragrant. Dump the walnuts onto a large clean towel. Roll and rub the walnuts in the towel. Transfer the nuts to a fine mesh strainer and shake them to remove as much of the thin, papery skin as possible. I think the walnuts taste better when some of the skin has been removed.

8 thoughts on “Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

    • Yes, Sarah, I plan to try several of the recipes from your book. So many sound like just my kind of comfort food that will be perfectly satisfying during our cold, snowy Minnesota winter ahead. The Cider-Maple Pork Shoulder cooked in a slow cooker sounds wonderful.

  1. Oh, this sounds soooo good. A friend was just telling me how to cook and freeze the large pumpkin sitting on my front steps. Now if I can just get the squirrels to leave it alone!

  2. Hello. My mother sent me a link to your site, and I’m so glad she did! This pasta sounds wonderful. My family is living in the Middle East, so I’m naturally homesick for Autumn and all the wonderful foods that go with it (it’s very hot here still). But it is my birthday on Halloween :) and I will be celebrating with a few friends from Britain and New Zealand; I think I’ll try this recipe and introduce our friends to some tastes from back home (I’m from Northern MN).

    Thank you again! I hope to check in on your site often.

    • I’m glad your mother sent you the link, too, Lorna. Have a happy birthday celebration with friends and Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce. Hope to hear from you again, soon.

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