Monday, November 5, 2012

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Creamy Sage Sauce

A couple years ago I tried making a pumpkin cream sauce for pasta, and it turned out nearly inedible. Later I realized that you can't freeze fresh pumpkin and turn it into cooked puree later. Something about the freezing changes the flavor of the pumpkin to something not even remotely enjoyable. A friend's recommendation for a Pumpkin Pasta with Sausage recipe inspired me to give pumpkin another try in the pasta department. When my failure to plan resulted in having no sausage on hand tonight, this was what I came up with instead. And guess what? It was pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself.

For the gnocchi part, follow this Taste of Home recipe up until the point that you cook the pasta. I would, however, make an effort to time the pasta and sauce to finish around the same time. Simply substitute pumpkin puree where canned pumpkin is called for and consider using 1/2 teaspoon of salt instead of the amount called for to give the pasta more flavor. I figured out that it's incredibly difficult to roll the pasta into "snakes" if you have too much flour on the counter and that the rolling with the fork part works much better if you hold each piece in the palm of your hand. Now, for the sauce.

Creamy Sage Sauce
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage, crushed in the palm of your hand
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the garlic and sage to the pot. Keep the heat low and stir occasionally until the garlic starts to turn golden and the sage is fragrant. Add the salt, pepper, and flour. Stir into the butter and cook on low 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add the milk to the pot and whisk until any lumps are gone. Raise the heat to bring the sauce to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer just until the sauce looks thick. If desired, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Taste to see if additional salt is needed. Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve warm.

If you need more sauce than this, up the milk content to 2 cups and increase the flour/butter by 1 Tablespoon. If you don't have sage on hand, I think rosemary or thyme would also make a great flavoring for the sauce.

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