Pound for Pound

By Angela Denstad Stigeler

Around this time of year, it’s common to see pumpkin-filled pastas, like ravioli and tortelloni, draped in delectable creamy or buttery sauces. While it’s well worth the effort to make and fill your own pasta, most days that’s just not an option. That’s why, when I spied a pumpkin pasta sauce recipe, I had to give it a try. And since it was from the kitchen of Rachel Ray, maven of the 30-minute meal, I expected it would be quick. Pound for pound, I found her “Penne-Wise” pasta to be a clever spin on the classic flavors. Here, I’ve made it into more of a full meal, adding cannellini beans and two kinds of cheeses. A sprinkling of toasted chopped walnuts adds some nice crunch, as well. So if you’re looking for some hearty autumn flavors and need a hot meal fast, just grab about a pound each of pasta, pumpkin and beans. Before you know it, you’ll be penne-wise and pound-full with this delicious and economical autumn meal.


Penne with Pumpkin and Cannellini


1 pound whole grain penne pasta

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 shallots, or one small onion, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

½ cup cream

freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

freshly ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

8 large sage leaves, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

crumbled Gorgonzola dolce (optional)

toasted chopped walnuts (optional)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt and pasta and cook until al dente, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, pumpkin and cream, then season with nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 minutes to thicken. Add the cannellini beans and heat through. If the sauce seems too thick, thin it out with some of the reserved pasta water. Stir in the sage, then toss in the drained pasta and grated cheese. Garnish individual plates with extra sage, gorgonzola, and walnuts, as desired.