I got the inspiration for this recipe from a 30 Minute Meal show (you know, the cooking show with Rachael Ray?) a few years back (when I used to regularly watch the show). Although I didn’t make it at the time, this recipe looked good to me then and stuck in my mind, just waiting for the perfect time to be made. I made a few changes to healthy it up a little (by using puréed milk and cottage cheese instead of cream and chicken breast instead of sausage) and round it out into a more balanced meal (by adding baby spinach), and it was wonderful! I only wondered why I waited so long to make it in the first place.
Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin-Sage Sauce, Spinach, and Chicken (Adopted from Rachael Ray’s recipe for Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage)
(Yield: About 6 servings)
¾ to 1 pound whole grain pasta
¾ to 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 TB flour
2 TB olive oil
1 medium-large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ c chicken stock
1 bay leaf
¾ tsp ground sage
¼ tsp nutmeg or allspice
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 c unsweetened pumpkin puree
¼ c low-fat cottage cheese pureed with ¼ c milk (or you could use ½ c heavy cream)
3 c baby spinach
Salt and pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional, for garnish)
Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour and a little salt and pepper on the chicken to coat it, then add the chicken to the pan. Cook the chicken 5-8 minutes, until it’s browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan.
To the same pan, add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, sage, nutmeg/allspice, red pepper flakes (if using), and pumpkin puree. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the cottage cheese puree (or cream, if using). Add the chicken back to the pan and let the sauce simmer (don’t let it boil) until it reaches your desired consistency. Add the baby spinach and cook until just wilted (about 3 minutes).
Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Serve the pasta garnished with fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top.