Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Creamy Pumpkin Penne

I've been cooking more than I've been posting, and have a few winners waiting in the wings for future write-ups. But this is one I made tonight, and loved, as did the rest of my family (well, sans Sam, who's still a bit young for penne).

The recipe is pretty basic. It involved a pound of pasta (penne, in this case) and a cream sauce made with roux-thickened milk, cream cheese, and parmesan, plus a can of pumpkin. To this I added a package of frozen cubed butternut squash that we had in the freezer and some cauliflower that I roasted for about twenty minutes. I think there are a number of things you could add to the base: shrimp, bacon, peas, mushrooms, or chicken are just a few off the top of my head. I liked the squash and cauliflower because they seemed particularly fall-y.

The best part of this recipe was that Charlotte loved it. I gave her about ten meager little pennes in the sauce only, not wanting to tempt fate. She devoured them, and asked for more, and even tried (and apparently liked) a couple pieces of cauliflower. Success!

Here's a brief recipe, with some of the amounts estimated because I just played it by ear:

Cook pasta and drain, set aside.

Meanwhile in a large pot, melt 2-3 T butter over medium heat. Add a clove of garlic, chopped, and saute for a minute or two. Make sure your heat isn't too high--burned garlic is nasty. Then, add either 1 T snipped fresh sage (we have some in the garden still) or 1 t dried, and stir for a minute. Add 1 T salt and black pepper to taste, plus 2 t nutmeg and stir. Then add 1/3 cup flour and stir for a minute, letting the flour soak up all that butter. When the roux begins to bubble a bit, but not brown too much, add 1 1/2 cups of milk. (I may have used more, but I just kept splashing milk in if the sauce seemed too thick, so have it on hand). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until milk is thickened. Add 1 block cream cheese chopped into eight or so chunks (I recommened full fat here for the creaminess, but I guess you can use reduced. Again, I reiterate: fat free cream cheese is the devil) and stir for a minute. Add one can of pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling!) and stir. At this point, I could tell if my sauce was getting a bit too thick, so I added a little more milk until I reached the consistency I wanted. Also at this point I stirred in my butternut squash and cauliflower. Keep stirring until the cream cheese is melted. Add 4-6 ounces parmesan cheese, and stir to combine. Then dump your pasta in and mix it all up.


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