November 04, 2010

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Pumpkin and Kale

I made another new dish tonight.   Credit where due:  This one was not completely my own invention.  It was very strongly influenced by a recipe from the October/November 2010 issue of Fine Cooking.  That recipe (Pasta with Pumpkin, Sausage and Cavalo Nero) wasn't really like anything I've ever made, or even had, but it sure looked and sounded good.  At the same time, as I thought about making it, I thought of a few things I thought would make it more to my liking.   One of them was pretty straight-forward:  the original recipe calls for chicken broth, but I wanted to boost the meaty taste of the sausage a bit, so I used a mix of chicken and beef broths. 

The other change I made was somewhat more unusual, and honestly, it came about from my initial, visual impression, based on the accompanying photo, before I actually read the recipe.  In the photo, the little bits of browned sausage looked a lot like pieces of walnut, and I thought a mix of pasta, pumpkin, greens and walnuts sounded pretty darn good.   Even after I read the recipe, I couldn't get that walnut impression out of my mind.  I thought walnuts would work well with the other ingredients, so I went ahead and put some in.  I'm glad I did, because they perfectly complemented the slightly nutty flavor of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and they also added an additional texture to the recipe, giving it a bit of a crunch element.

So, the recipe below is mine, but I encourage you to also check out the original version that inspired me.  Who knows, maybe that one will inspire some other ideas in you?

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Pumpkin and Kale

yield = 6 servings

1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1       pound sweet Italian sausage (casings removed if using links)
1       teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (if needed)
1       medium-size yellow onion, chopped
3       cups of peeled, seeded pumpkin, diced into small chunks
1/4    cup white wine
2       teaspoons minced garlic
1       teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2    cup beef broth
1       cup chicken broth, divided
7       ounces kale, ribs removed and leaves cut into 1-inch pieces
8       ounces pasta (I used farfalle, but rotini, campanelle, etc. would do fine)
1/3    cup walnut pieces
1/2    cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus 1/4 cup more for serving
1/2    teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2    teaspoon salt
1       pinch cayenne pepper

Add 1 teaspoon salt to a pot of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook the pasta according to package directions. 

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with the edge of a wooden spoon, until mostly browned.  Push the sausage aside and see how much fat it has left on the pan; if there isn't very much, add a bit of olive oil.  Add the onion and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. 

Stir in the pumpkin, wine, garlic and marjoram and cook until the wine evaporates, about 3 minutes.  Add the beef broth and 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and cook until the pumpkin is almost tender (about 6 minutes).  Stir in the kale and the remaining 3/4 cups chicken broth, cover and cook until the pumpkin and kale are tender (4-5 minutes). 

By then, the pasta should be done.  Add the pasta in a large serving bowl, top with the skillet contents, add 1/2 cup of the walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano,salt, pepper and cayenne, then stir together until.  Serve with the additional Parmigiano.


  1. This looks and sounds great. Definitely going to try my hand at this one this week. I'll share a photo.

  2. Sounds great! I hope you enjoy it, and we'll look forward to seeing your photo.