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Fall is an amazing season filled with wonderful sights, scents, and sounds. I cannot pass up the opportunity to cook a seasonal meal, and autumn meals are one of my favorite things to make. This pumpkin penne pasta recipe is a perfect celebration of fall. It warm and savory, but it uses pumpkin in a novel, non-dessert way. I’ve seen lots of pumpkin pasta sauce recipes that call for cream, but y’all know I love substituting Greek yogurt for basically any kind of dairy product. When combined with whole grain noodles, this fall dish makes a healthy seasonal entree that’s pretty easy to cook up. If you start cooking the sausage, pasta, and sauce all at the same time, you can be serving dinner in 30-40 minutes.
I love cheese and have discovered sharp cheddar cheese is just as tasty on this dish as traditional pasta cheeses like Parmesan or Romano. If you haven’t used cheddar on pasta, give it a try! I also like serving the pumpkin penne with sprigs of fresh thyme, but they certainly aren’t mandatory.
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (I suggest using one sausage link per person)
- 1 pound of penne pasta, more or less as needed (I used whole grain penne)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 cup of canned pumpkin
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup of chicken stock (you can just use 1 cup of chicken stock instead of stock and wine)
- Salt and black pepper
- ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt
- Sprigs of fresh thyme, for garnish, if desired
- Grated cheese for topping, if desired
- Place the sausages in a skillet and add enough water to cover the sausages a little more than half way. Heat the water until it is at a simmer or a low boil and allow the sausages to cook, turning occasionally, until the water has steamed away, about 20 minutes. Remove the sausages from the heat.
- While the sausages are cooking, prepare your pasta according to the package's directions. When it is done, drain it and toss it in olive oil.
- While the sausages and pasta are cooking, prepare the pumpkin sauce. Begin by heating the tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.
- When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are beginning to turn translucent.
- Stir in the canned pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne and allow it to cook, stirring frequently, until the pumpkin is fragrant, 3-5 minutes.
- Add the thyme, bay leaf, and wine/chicken stock and whisk to combine. Allow the mixture to simmer gently, reducing heat as necessary, until it has reduced thickened, 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- While the sauce is thickening, begin heating a skillet over medium-high heat.
- When the sauce is almost thick enough, remove it from the heat and whisk in the Greek yogurt.
- Once the sauce is ready and waiting, slice the cooked sausages on a diagonal and place them in the pre-heated skillet. Allow them to cook until both sides are browned, 5-10 minutes total.
- Once the sausages are browned, add the olive-oil coated noodles to the skillet and allow them to cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute. This browns them slightly, adding flavor, and cooks away lingering moisture inside the noodles.
- Add the prepared sauce to the skillet and stir throughly.
- Remove from heat and serve, topped with fresh thyme sprigs and grated cheese, if desired.
You can use a spicy Italian sausage, if you’d prefer. I happen to like sweet or mild sausages, but the choice is yours! The cooling yogurt goes well with a bit of spice, and I recommend adding just a pinch of cayenne if you use a mild or sweet sausage. Either way, cutting them on the diagonal allows for more surface area and, therefore, more browning and flavor.
Have you tried a non-dessert pumpkin recipe yet? If not, you really should give it a try! You can make delicious pasta sauces and soups with pumpkin, and you can use either canned or fresh pumpkin puree. What’s your favorite way to prepare pumpkin?