Creamy Pumpkin Pasta

Serves 4. Make this without any of the meat additions and replace the half and half with coconut milk and crushed walnuts instead of cheese for a silky vegan sauce.  But, if you are a meat eater, like me, add the texture of cooked sausage or meatballs for a hearty main course.
  • 8 ounces linguini or other pasta of your choice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (I used used fresh and made my own because pumpkins are everywhere this time of year)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp half and half (Use coconut milk for a vegan sauce)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese (Optional: Use crushed walnuts for a vegan version )
  • Margot's Morsels to top your dish - any flavor you prefer (Rockin' Rosemary, Simply Sea Salt, Killer Garlic, or Primo Parmesan)
  • Finely chopped flat leaf parsley (or, spinach) for garnish 
Here's where I took some liberties:
  • Cooked mild Italian sausage, instead of meatballs or, shredded chicken strips, to your taste
  • Or, add turkey meatballs or chicken piccata meatballs (I had a dozen of these frozen, thawed them to room temperature before adding to the sauce)
  • 2 cups baby or roughly chopped spinach, heaping 
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, mixed with your chopped morsels

Cook sausage in a large skillet and set aside. Once you've cooked the sausage, don't clean the skillet save all those flavored bits in the bottom of the pan for the sauce.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside but keep warm.

While the pasta cooks, bring the olive oil to medium heat in your large skillet. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the minced garlic. Cook just until fragrant. Whisk in the tomato paste, pumpkin, half and half until smooth. Add the vegetable broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir until combined. Let cook on a very low heat, about 5 minutes – I added my room temperature meatballs during this portion and they were perfect. Immediately, add the spinach and cook just until it lightly wilts.

Stir in pasta and toss to coat. Plate, sprinkle with morsel mixture and Parmesan  and a little finely chopped parsley and serve.  

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