What do you get when you give a sixteen-year-old girl who loves pasta free reign in your kitchen? You get spicy, flavorful, creamy, luxuriant pasta bliss!
I love cooking with my daughter, and this recipe is great for a young cook. The directions are simple and easy to follow, and cooking the pasta in the liquid uses the starch from the noodles to naturally thicken the sauce. It’s a one pot meal. Brilliant and delicious!
I love making this pasta dish when we have company over because you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and allow the flavors to blend and deepen until you’re ready to warm it back up in time for dinner. I’m also a believer in the rule that you should always cook with the wine you plan to serve with the meal. The peppery, currant, berry flavor of Syrah wine adds a deep richness to the sauce and wonderfully compliments the earthy mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage and bright licorice essence of the fennel.
I promise this is not one of those ‘pumpkin-spiced everything’ recipes. It is, however, a great use of fall vegetables like pumpkin, yellow squash, and zucchini. And as much as this would be a perfect dish for my veggie friends, the carnivore in me had to add the spicy Italian sausage for no reason other than it ended up tasting so good, I couldn’t have imagined the dish without it!
I chose fontina cheese for this recipe, rather than the traditional mozzarella, because the creamy, earthy, nuttiness of the fontina pairs so well with the flavors of the sage and pumpkin. But if you’re a die-hard mozzarella fan, that will work too!