Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Kale and Sausage Breadcrumbs
As the weather starts to cool, cozy pastas are exactly what we want to be eating. This recipe uses canned pumpkin purée to make a creamy, decadent pasta sauce that is surprisingly easy to throw together. The sweetness of the pumpkin and the richness of the half-and-half are cut with the crunchy, savory sausage breadcrumbs scented with sage and a kick of crushed red pepper. We’ve also added some hearty winter greens for good measure, but you could also make this with chopped broccolini or roasted Brussels sprouts.
Make the breadcrumbs
  1. In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook over moderately-high heat, breaking up the meat with your spatula into small crumbles, until well-browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the panko and crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook the breadcrumbs, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sage. Scrape the breadcrumbs into a bowl and keep warm. Wipe out the skillet.
Make the pasta
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, in the large deep skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the roux begins to smell toasty, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the half-and-half and simmer over moderately-low heat until the sauce begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Do not let the half-and-half come to a boil. Whisk in the pumpkin purée, grated parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, and nutmeg until smooth. Season with salt.
  3. Fold the pasta and kale into the sauce and season with salt. Cook over moderately-low heat, stirring until the pasta is coated and the kale has wilted, about 2 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, gradually add the reserved pasta water.
  4. Spoon the pasta into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the sausage breadcrumbs. Garnish with shaved parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. Serve right away.