Looking for an easy fall dinner idea? Look no further than this dairy free, pumpkin rigatoni with Italian sausage & spinach.
What better way to further you pumpkin addiction that a savory pasta dish. If you’ve never tried pumpkin in a savory way, this is definitely the way to do it. It pairs really well with the fennel flavors in the Italian sausage, and it make a great dairy free sauce because it creates a creamy, flavorful sauce without any cream or milk.
This pumpkin rigatoni is actually a new spin on a super old recipe I published a few years back. That one used butternut squash that had been roasted and pureed rather than pumpkin, but times have changed and I just don’t have the time to prep meals like I used to. Personally, I think a can of pumpkin works even better anyway. By making one simple swap, I’ve managed to take a recipe that should take almost an hour and cram it into a half hour.
So let’s talk about the shallots. I used a shallot in this recipe because they have a really unique flavor that you can’t replicate. But, having said that, you can easily swap an onion. I would suggest using a sweet onion because it’s going to be the closest match to the shallots. If you haven’t tried using shallots before, definitely give it a try though if you can.
To make the sauce, you’ll need to use a decent amount of pasta water. That means you need to take some out before draining the cooked pasta. I do this by sinking a liquid measuring cup into the pot – and hoping I don’t get any pasta. A mug would work really well, too, but you can also ladle some into a bowl or measuring cup. Always, always reserve more water than you need, maybe even double if you can. It’s better to have extra than not enough. I added about 1 1/4 cup of pasta water to my sauce for the pumpkin rigatoni.
Pumpkin Rigatoni with Italian Sausage & Spinach
Yield 6 - 8 servings
- 1 16-ounce package rigatoni
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 8-ounce bag fresh spinach
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions for al dente - reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta water for sauce before draining.
- In a large skillet, brown Italian sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it into pieces as it cooks, about 8 minutes. Transfer cooked sausage to a plate and set aside.
- Add olive oil to pan and sauté shallot, garlic and crushed red pepper, stirring frequently, until softened and slightly golden, about 3 minutes.
- Add spinach to pan and wilt, stirring occasionally. If needed, reduce heat to low until pasta is ready.
- Return heat to medium-high. Add pumpkin puree, sage and salt & pepper. Slowly stir in pasta water, about 1/2 cup at a time, until sauce has reached desired consistency. Return sausage to pan and toss with pasta, adding extra pasta water if needed.