In my opinion, dinner is not dinner unless it has a starch. Be it rice, barley, pasta, bread, or sometimes potatoes (I view potatoes as the "Y" of starches- sure, "y" is sometimes a vowel, but you wouldn't want to depend on its vowelness too much...).
Of those, however, pasta is my favorite. I could probably eat pasta for lunch and dinner every day and wouldn't tire of it. I love it.
So in an attempt to creatively serve pasta (we already have red sauce about once a week, and creamy white sauces don't fit well with an Army-fit lifestyle...), I stumbled upon Rachel Ray's "Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta." Well, actually I saw her make it on her show last fall and have made it a couple times since.
As a disclaimer: I don't like pumpkin. I'll have a wee slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but that's really more because I have a ridiculous obsession with the holidays than because I actually like it. But this doesn't taste like pumpkin! I'm sure the flavor is in there... come to think of it, maybe it's just nutmeg and cloves I don't like...
Using pumpkin as an alternative is quite healthy- it has a goodly amount of fiber and protein, and many fewer calories than other sauces. I added some sausage (RR doesn't)- in my opinion it adds a lot of great flavor. However, it would be much less fat if it were meatless. I also put in some chopped tomatoes & mushrooms because I had them on hand- whatever you want to add works.
A tip: We always keep fat-free plain yogurt on hand, and it is fabulous for those times that I make food that is as spicy as Jon prefers! (which makes my nose run...) The yogurt really helps counter the spicy heat, and makes it even creamier- Win-Win!!
Anyway- you can click the link above to see the original recipe. Here's my version. All spices are to taste... I don't measure...
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 sweet Italian sausage link, taken out of casing
1 bay leaf
crushed red pepper
1 chicken boullion cube
2 cups water
1 can pumpkin- make sure you get pumpkin puree- NOT pumpkin pie filling!!!!
1/2 cup milk
Saute onions, garlic, and sausage until sausage is cooked.
Add 2nd set of ingredients, bring to a boil, then cook on medium about 15 minutes. Or 5. Or 20. Whatever.
Add yogurt (either to the sauce itself or let each person spoon it on his own serving according to taste)- DO NOT BOIL after yogurt is added!
Serve over pasta (I prefer ruffles :-) with Parmesan cheese!!