Festive Pasta

Are you ready for Christmas yet? If you're like most people, there are at least a few more things to accomplish before the big day's here. Maybe you have some gifts to wrap (or get!). Maybe you have some dishes to prepare (or plan!). Maybe you have some visits you want to get in (or visitors on the way!). We all have just a few more things to do. So, in the middle of all that, try to avoid the temptation to order pizza when dinner time rolls around. Sometimes, resisting that temptation isn't too difficult:

In about a half hour, this yummy dinner can be yours. You can use fresh or canned pumpkin. Mine used fresh, but that's just because I have gone through about 4 pumpkins in the last month and a half and I have been adding it to everything from baked goods to chili and everything in between! I also used hot sausage because we definitely like it hot at my home. You can use a mild or even sweet sausage if you prefer. If you prefer not to use wine in your sauce, simply increase the amount of stock to replace the wine that's called for in the recipe. And, of course, any kind of pasta will do in this dish. I just thought the farfalle was a little festive and did a great job of holding onto this amazing sauce.

What to have with this simple dish? How about a side salad (mine included roasted beets, croutons, a little cheese, and a sweet mustard dressing — but use what you have), some kind of bread (you'll want to sop up any remaining sauce off your plate, if you're like me), and maybe a glass of that white wine (you didn't use it all, did you?) or a glass of apple cider. Then use the time you saved by making a quick dinner to sit down and enjoy it with your family. After all, that's the best part of the holidays!

Farfalle with Pumpkin-Sausage Sauce

  • 1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound farfalle pasta, cooked al dente

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Brown the sausage in it. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel lined plate. Return pan to the stove. Add the garlic and onion to the pan. Sauté the garlic and onion for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onions are tender.

Add the sage and wine to the pan. Reduce the wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add the stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring the sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return the sausage to the pan, reduce the heat, and stir in the half & half. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer the mixture for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken the sauce.

Cook the farfalle according to the package directions. Return the drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over the pasta. Combine the sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes