Spicy Pumpkin Penne with Turkey Sausage

When S and I were just dating and he lived in Florida and I lived in Maine I would visit him and have all-day cooking days where I would make upwards of six servings of six different meals in a single day. Typically the week before a visit I would create a menu of at least a dozen meals and during the flight to Florida I would create our shopping list. We'd spend a couple of hours at the grocery store the day I arrived and then I'd have several cooking days throughout my stay. When I went home S's 13 cubic foot freezer would be filled with "soup & salad" sized gladware containers; enough for 2 meals for the six to eight weeks until I'd visit again. It kept him from eating at Sonic and allowed me to try out new recipes.

One of our favorite meals from the freezer days (he still takes freezer meals for lunch and we eat meals from the freezer when we're hungry, cranky and not feeling like cooking) is penne in a pumpkin sauce. The original recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, which I used to have delivered to single S's house so he could flag the recipes that looked good, however, this one has been modified several times over. It's the perfect dinner for that first night in September, or in our case October, when the air finally turns cool.
Our recipe calls for turkey sausage, but you can easily make this a vegetarian dish by omitting it.

Spicy Pumpkin Penne with Turkey Sausage
serves 4

1 box of whole wheat penne pasta (12-14 oz.)
1 lb lean sweet turkey sausage, casings removed
4 cloves garlic, minced (or 2T of chopped garlic from a jar)
2 T dried rosemary
2 - 15 oz cans of pumpkin (plain pumpkin, not pie mix)
1 c milk
2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 T cider or white wine vinegar
1 T red pepper flakes (less if you prefer less spicy)
Kosher salt

1. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente, drain. Reserve 3 cups of the drained pasta water.

2. In a large saute pan or dutch oven style pan sprayed with Pam cook sausage, rosemary and garlic, breaking apart the sausage into crumbles.

3. When sausage is cooked through, add pumpkin, Parmesan, milk, vinegar, red pepper flakes, 2 cups of the reserved pasta water. Cook until heated through, stirring constantly.

4. Add pasta to the pumpkin sauce, toss to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add additional reserved pasta water. Season with kosher salt and more red pepper flakes, if necessary.

Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

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