Harvest Helper

By Angela Denstad Stigeler

On some of these chilly autumn nights, you really need a little comfort food in a hurry. But you don’t have to reach for help from a box; all you need is a good recipe and a big skillet. This one-pan pasta meal really brings home the harvest, pairing hearty sausage with pumpkin and sage, along with some warming spice. Cooking the pasta in the sauce not only saves on dishes, it infuses the pasta with extra flavor, making this a robust and filling fall favorite. On the table in under 30 minutes, you’ll likely have plenty of helpers once it’s done, happy to harvest second helpings.


Penne with Sausage and Pumpkin


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ pound sweet Italian sausage

¼ teaspoon each salt, pepper and cinnamon

A dash of nutmeg

¼ cup white wine, optional

8 ounces (about 2 ½ cups) penne pasta

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup milk or half-and-half

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 cup mashed cooked or canned pumpkin

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Add the sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking the meat up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the wine is reduced by half. Sprinkle the pasta evenly into the pan, add the stock, milk or half-and-half, and sage. Cover and simmer until the pasta is cooked, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the pumpkin and continue to cook until heated through. Serve hot, topped with freshly grated Parmesan.