Thursday, January 26, 2012

Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce {and Chicken}

As I have mentioned before, I have a lot of pumpkin to use up. Not only in baggies in my freezer, already pureed, but also still in pumpkin form in my cold back pantry, awaiting puree-ification. So, I'm trying to get creative. I have made pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup, pumpkin mac 'n' cheese, pumpkin donut holes, you name it. They have all, by the way, been delicious. And I am glad that my over-abundance of pumpkin means that I will be able to cook and bake with it all year, instead of being constrained to it's seasonal spotlight, autumn. My latest foray into cooking with pumpkin is another pasta dish, which tasted remarkably similar to its cheesier baked cousin, pumpkin mac 'n' cheese. This is definitely a simpler method of mixing your pumpkin with your pasta and it is incredibly tasty too! I am sorry to say that it is not a very pretty dish, which always grieves me. I confess, I am partial to food that looks just as pretty on the plate as it tastes delicious in your mouth. This is not one of those. It is unfortunately not very eye-catching, but it is delicious, and for that, I must share.
The original recipe I found was a non-meat entree, but I fixed that. :) I decided the addition of chicken tossed in the creamy sauce sounded fabulous, so the first step I took was to bake a couple of chicken breasts. I did not really season them, since I wanted them to soak up the flavor of the sauce. I recommend baking chicken breast uncovered in a 350 oven for about 45 min to an hour, depending on thickness. Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and juices are clear. When the chicken gets close to being done (say, 25 min. till), you can start on the pasta. Cook your penne (I like to use whole wheat penne) or other pasta, if you have an aversion to penne.
Meanwhile, in a pot, stir together cream cheese, Parmesan, butter and milk over low heat until it is all melted and creamy (I accidentally added the pumpkin at this juncture as well, but it didn't seem to hurt). If you can't resist the urge, go ahead and dip your finger in for a taste test. Mmmmm....

Add the pumpkin (if you didn't add it prematurely like me) and seasonings.

Make sure it's all creamy and hot through, then add it to the pasta. When the chicken is done, cube it and throw it in; toss, and you've got yourself a creamy, delicious dinner! I served ours with asparagus and homemade Italian bread (I should share that recipe with you soon- it is delicious!!). Enjoy!

Penne with Chicken and Creamy Pumpkin Sauce
(printable version)
serves 4

2 chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed
1/2 box of whole wheat penne pasta (about 8 oz)
4 oz. cream cheese (half a package), cubed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup canned (or homemade) pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp ground red (cayenne) pepper
nutmeg to taste (start with a dash)

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat cream cheese, Parmesan, butter and milk on low until cream cheese is melted, stirring frequently. Add pumpkin and seasonings and stir, heating through.
Drain pasta; add sauce and chicken and toss to coat.

Source: Kraft Foods

1 comment:

  1. Looks great! You can always puree me a pumpkin a bring me a baggie ;) LOL!


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