Tuesday, October 25, 2011

what's orange and bacon-y and delicious all over?

Pumpkin pasta with sage and bacon. 
Have you made those scrumptious pumpkin cupcakes yet?  Well, tonight I have another pumpkin treat for you (that, unlike those cupcakes, you can unashamedly eat lots of for dinner).  Pumpkin penne pasta with sage and bacon.  It's my first time to actually use pumpkin for a savory dish, and I loved it.  I found the recipe from Rachael Ray.  Rachael's recipes always seem to make way too much food, so I halved it and made enough for 3.  I read a few of the reviews of the recipe on her website (always a good idea to hear from real folks and not just test-kitchen robots!), and they said it was a bit bland.  We all know the answer to that: bacon.  Applewood smoked, to be exact.  If you're of the vegetarian persuasion, perhaps amp it up with some toasted pine nuts and tangy parmesan instead.  I frequent the Food Network more than any other channel (no surprise there) and notice that chefs always have interesting textures going on in their food, so that's another bonus from the crisped bacon (or pine nuts) in this creamy pasta. 
Chop three strips of bacon (streaky bacon for your Belfast folks), and saute in a bit of olive oil until crisp.  Remove and let drain on a paper towel.  Use another paper towel to sop up about half of the bacon drippings in the pan.

To the remaining bacon drippings (I know, I'm sounding lots like Paula Deen, y'all), add as much red pepper flake as you like.  I think I added about a teaspoon.  Has some kick!  I LOVE red pepper flake in pasta.  It adds heat without masking the flavor.

 Chop up half an onion and three cloves of garlic.

Saute the onions until soft, about 10 minutes.   Add the garlic and cook another 3 minutes or so.

Now it's sage time!  Sage is smoky and earthy and stands up well to strong flavors (like that rockstar applewood smoked bacon).  Thinly slice about 6 sage leaves.

Add to the onions and garlic, cooking for a few minutes so it gets a bit crispy.  Unlike its more delicate cousin basil that prefers to frolic in light salads, sage can stand up to some heat.

Now it gets interesting.  Add a dash of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.  But really, folks, just a wee dash: you don't want your pasta to taste like those wonderful cupcakes.  I heat the spices a bit in the pan, releasing their flavor.

Now add in about 3/4 cup of pumpkin, whatever was leftover from making those perfect pumpkin cupcakes.

Add in one cup of chicken stock, stir well and then add 1/4 cup heavy cream.  I suppose you could use half and half.  But seriously, we already have bacon going on.  Don't let a wee thing like 1/4 cup heavy cream get you stressed out.  (Or a bit of bacon, for that matter.)  The sauce has the most stunning color and silky texture.

For the pasta, I used whole wheat penne.  I love penne, and the whole wheat makes me feel better 'bout that bacon and cream. :)

 Cook until nearly al dente, about 7 minutes.  Keep simmering your yummy pumpkin sauce, adjusting salt and pepper as needed.  After draining pasta let it hang out in that fabulous sauce for a couple of minutes.

Top your fabulously fall-ish pasta with a sprinkling of the crisped bacon (mmm, bacon sprinkles...think of the possibilities!).

Enjoy, y'all.

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for testing this - we love pasta and will have to try it too!