Why I love this pumpkin pasta recipe
- Savory > sweet. What better way to indulge your pumpkin cravings than with a savory pasta dish. If you’ve never tried pumpkin in a savory way, this recipe is a must for fall.
- It’s creamy. The pumpkin pairs really well with the fennel flavors in the Italian sausage, and it make a great dairy free sauce option because it creates a creamy, flavorful sauce without any cream or milk.
- It’s quick. I used to make this with roasted butternut squash, but thanks to canned pumpkin, this recipe only takes 30 minutes to make.
Here’s what you’ll need to make it
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Ingredients & substitutions
- Rigatoni – Any pasta you want will work here. Just make sure to cook it to al dente in salted water, and don’t forget to save some of that pasta water for the sauce.
- Italian sausage – We use sweet Italian sausage for this recipe, but you can use spicy or mild as well. You can also substitute chicken or turkey sausage, but you might need a bit of oil in your pan because there’s generally less fat in those.
- Shallot – Shallots have a really unique flavor that you can’t replicate, but you can swap an onion. I would suggest using a sweet onion because it’s going to be the closest match to the shallots.
- Pumpkin puree – This is not canned pumpkin pie filling. The ingredient list on the can should list pumpkin and nothing more. You could also use a homemade pumpkin puree if you have it.
- Spinach – You can skip the spinach if you don’t have it, or you simply don’t like it. It won’t make a difference to the flavor of the recipe.
- Fresh sage – if you don’t have fresh sage, you can substitute a 1/4 teaspoon of dry rubbed sage (a little goes a long way with fresh sage).
How to make pasta with pumpkin sauce
Boil the pasta. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and a generous amount of salt.
Then, boil the pasta until it’s tender, stirring as needed. Check package for the al dente cooking time suggestion, and go from there.
When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
Brown the sausage. Heat a large skillet to medium high. If your sausage is in links, remove and discard the casings.
When it’s hot, add the sausage and allow it to brown. Breaking it into pieces as you go.
Make the sauce. After the sausage has browned and there’s no pink left. Add the shallots and garlic. Stir to distribute them through the sausage, and sauté until the shallots are translucent – this should only take about 3 minutes.
Then, add the pumpkin puree and stir it around to coat the sausage. If your pasta isn’t ready yet, turn the pan’s heat down to low or temporarily remove it from the heat.
Thin the sauce out. To thin 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. Always, always reserve more water than you need, maybe even double if you can. It’s better to have extra than not enough.
When ready, stir in at least 1/2 cup of pasta water to loosen the sauce. Then add the spinach and sage and cook until wilted.
Toss it all together. Add the pasta and additional pasta water (if you needed it). Gently stir to toss the pasta with sauce. Then, adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper before serving.
More savory pumpkin recipes you’ll love
*You may need to make changes to these recipes to make them 100% dairy free. For simple swaps, check out my favorite dairy free substitutes.
More pasta recipes you’ll love
- Italian sausage and peppers pasta
- Sweet potato pasta
- Sesame noodles
- Pasta carbonara
- Slow cooker beef ragu
- 1 16-ounce package rigatoni pasta
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 5 – 8 ounces fresh spinach leaves
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage, thinly sliced
- 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Boil pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions for al dente – reserving about 1 cup 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 5 minutes.
- Add the shallots, garlic and crushed red pepper to the pan and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened and slightly golden, about 3 minutes.
- Add pumpkin puree and salt & pepper. Then, slowly stir in pasta water, about 1/2 cup at a time, until sauce has reached desired consistency.
- Add spinach and sage to pan and allow it to wilt, stirring occasionally. If needed, reduce heat until pasta is ready.
- Drain pasta and toss with sauce, adding extra pasta water if needed.
- Category: Mains
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian/American
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 0
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 0 mg
- Fat: 0 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: pumpkin pasta, pumpkin rigatoni, pasta with pumpkin sauce, pumpkin sauce
Published: September 16, 2022. Updated: November 13, 2022.
This post contains affiliate links. I may earn commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. I will never recommend a product I don’t use or trust.