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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chicken Sausage and Penne in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce

From the title, and even the picture, you may think this a rich dinner made with heavy cream. I'm delighted to say that's not the case - but it tastes like it is! I saw this recipe on Cara's Cravings last year and have made it several times. Cara ingeniously came up with the idea to make a puree using skim milk, canned pumpkin, and - get this - 1% lowfat cottage cheese! I was skeptical when I first made it, and a little worried when I added this 'cream sauce' to the pan and saw tiny bits of cottage cheese peppering the pan. But then, the most amazing thing happened: the tiny bits melted and created this creamy, slightly cheesy, sauce. I really want to use this trick to make this Giada recipe again, because it was far too creamy for me the first time. This idea can also be adapted for other sauces, like a butternut squash cream sauce - mmm.

Bob and I both really like this recipe. I've made it using different kinds of chicken sausage, but the combo of the apple sausage and the pumpkin is quite nice. I've made a few slight modifications to the recipe, but Cara's original version, which serves 2, is available through the link below. My version serves 3-4 because we like to have leftovers for lunch.

Chicken Sausage and Penne in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce

6 ounces penne pasta
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, grated or more to taste
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
3 sliced chicken sausage links, such as apple from TJ's
3/4 cup 1% low fat cottage cheese
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup skim milk
5 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, sage, and chicken sausage; continue to saute.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. In a small food processor or blender, combine pumpkin, cottage cheese, and milk. Blend until smooth. Add to sausage mixture in the skillet and continue to cook over low heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

3. Drain pasta and add to sausage mixture with the baby spinach. Toss together until the spinach is wilted. Raise heat if necessary to melt any remaining bits of cottage cheese, while continuing to stir until creamy. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Cara's Cravings


  1. MMmm, yum! I love anything pasta, looks so good!

  2. This looks absolutely like something I would love. I really like pumpkin in savory dishes and it is something I am trying to use more.
    I like the idea of the 'faux' cream sauce too.
    Looks great!

  3. Yum! The pasta looks like it comes together very quickly and is super flavorful! I love the cottage cheese in the sauce - we really do think alike :)

  4. That looks so great! It sounds so warm and inviting.

  5. I love the idea of the pumpkin! This sounds delicious and your photos are gorgeous.


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