15 October 2013

Foodie Tuesday | Rotini with Creamy Pumpkin-Sage Sauce

During the school week, if dinner takes me more than 10 minutes to prepare, I want to hang myself.

I go to great lengths, in fact, to ensure that never happens. Most of our meals are pre-made on Sundays and either refrigerated (ready for almost-immediate consumption) or frozen for later in the week. The most effort I want to go to Monday through Friday is defrosting, then nuking for 10 minutes or less. I consider this an accomplishment that I can structure our nutritional lives this way.

On the weekends, though, I like to put a little more effort into dinners by making finicky, fussy recipes that there's no way in hell I'd ever undertake on a school night. Ones that have a thousand ingredients (some of which I can't pronounce), or that require 5,000 steps, or that, like this one, require to-the-minute timing in order not to burn or otherwise destroy what will a freaking delicious meal.

Because it IS delicious, and nutritious (mostly). And very, very filling.

But don't take my word for it: try it for yourself this weekend and let me know what you think!

Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes | Serves: 5-7

  • 2 + 4 tbsp salted butter, separated
  • 10 large whole sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 5-10 large sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shallots, finely diced
  • 2 heaping tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup extra smooth ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 500g rotini pasta (we use Catelli Whole Wheat)

Cooking Directions:
  1. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; set aside.
  2. In a small fry pan, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium high heat. Be careful not to scorch. When bubbling, lay the 10 large sage leaves into the pan, flat. Cook 2-3 minutes or until beginning to brown, then turn and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes. When crispy, remove leaves from pan with tongs and lay out on a sheet of paper towel to drain/cool. Coarsely chop.
  3. In a large fry pan, melt remaining 4 tbsp butter until sizzling. Add olive oil (to prevent burning), shallots, garlic and chopped sage. Sauté for approximately 7 minutes or until shallots are translucent.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low.
  5. Add pumpkin, then salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly to combine, and cook 3-5 minutes until fragrant.
  6. Add evaporated milk; stir until completely absorbed into the pumpkin mixture. Then, add ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. Stir until combined/melted.
  7. Add chopped fried sage and stir. Remove from heat. Scrape pumpkin sauce into pot with pasta and stir to coat. Serve piping hot!
The sauce is quite thick, which we prefer, but if you want to thin it out you can easily do so with additional evaporated milk, or by adding 1-2 cups of pasta water (which you can reserve when draining your noodles.)

Because it doesn't keep or freeze well (another anomaly to our regular meal planning philosophy), you sort of have to eat it as soon as you make it. This is not a fix-it-and-forget-it type of meal, but DAYYUM it is good. And good for you. Sort of.

Finally, if you're the type who prefers your pasta sauce smooooooth like butter, you can totally food-process this bad boy to make it completely creamy. After cooking the onion mixture, drop it into a food processor, to which you'll then add the pumpkin. Process until blended, then scrape back into the pan to cook/add the remaining ingredients. Easy-peasy.

Notes: kid-friendly