Tuesday, November 2, 2010

California Here He Comes

Did I tell you that our son is moving to California?  Did I tell you that he is our only child?  Did I tell you that California is 3,000 miles away?  And did I tell you that we will miss him?

For a farewell dinner, of sorts, I made one of his favorite fall meals--Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage. This is a hearty and delicious meal--and a little goes a long way.

I followed the pasta with a riff on this salad by New York chef, Andrew Carmellini.  A lovely mixture of baby arugula, Granny Smith apples, raisins, fennel and celery; this citrusy salad proved to be a nice counterpoint to the richness of the pasta.

You  certainly don't need a farewell to serve this dinner.  Give it a try!

The pasta recipe is my rendition of one by Rachel Ray.  Oh please, don't judge me!

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage
Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 to 6 sage leaves cut into chiffonade
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked al dente
Parmigiano cheese for grating

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add sausage and saute until brown.  Remove and drain sausage on paper towels.  Drain fat from skillet and return pan to stove.  Add remaining oil then the onion and garlic, and saute 3 to 5 minutes until onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage and wine to pan.  Raise heat and reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes.  Add chicken broth and pumpkin and stir to combine. Stir sauce until it comes to a boil.  Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream.  Season sauce with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Simmer mixture 5-10 minutes until sauce thickens.

Remove bay leaf from sauce and add drained pasta; toss over low heat until pasta is coated. Top pasta with grated Parmigiano cheese and garnish with sage leaves.


  1. Being the mother of an only child, I completely sympathize, Michele.
    I had huge angst when my daughter lived in China for a year. (Now she is married and in DC) Consider it this way--California will be fun to visit!

    This dish intrigues me because it combines ingredients--pumpkin and Italian Sausage--that I would have never considered. Looks terrific. As does the salad.

  2. Nancy: Thanks. I think it is a good move for him; and you're right, it will be fun to visit. The pasta is a very pleasant dish if you like pumpkin and Italian sausage. I use hot sausage, but the recipe works with sweet as well.

  3. The salad and the pasta look amazing! great job Michele:) I espcially love the salad.. it looks so rich and healthy.

  4. Faith: Thank you. The salad is quite refreshing and lends itself to improvisation.

  5. I keep posting comments to your site, but they never appear, I must be doing something silly! Anyway, earlier I was saying that this is a lovely farewell dinner and that I hope your son has a wonderful time in his new place. I do hope that you get to visit him lots.

  6. Hi Kath! I'm glad your back. I wonder what the problem was. Thank you, I hope he is happy there, and I can't wait to visit.

  7. I don't know what I have been doing wrong but it has happened the last few posts. I haven't been ignoring you. I think I have been being too eager and not filling in the spam checker. Silly me, glad I am working again now though.

  8. Kath: I am glad you are working again, too : )

  9. such a great dinner...and now you will have a good reason to travel... to visit your son and california :)

  10. I hope he likes California. You better send this recipe along with him, just in case ; )

  11. M.: He is on his way to southern California as I type this. It will be fun to visit!

    Denise: I guess I will just have to go out there next Fall to make this dish for him and his girlfriend!