2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4-6 sprigs sage leaves (about 2 tablespoons), cut into chiffonade
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for grating
Pumpernickel or whole grain bread, as an accompaniment
Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon EVOO, followed by the garlic and onion. Sauté 3-5 minutes until the onions are tender.
Add bay leaf, sage and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan; reduce heat and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5-10 minutes to thicken sauce.
Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over the pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.
Serve pumpkin sausage pasta with pumpernickel or whole grain bread. Tip: when translated literally from the French, "chiffonade" means "made of rags." In culinary terms it means finely cut strips or ribbons of leafy vegetables or herbs. To chiffonade sage leaves, stack them, roll them up and slice across the vein.