Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whole wheat penne with pumpkin, chestnuts, chicken and spinach

I put this pasta together on the fly when I was home alone. I made one serving, and now I want to make it again as soon as possible. Thanks to baaaaad recessed lighting in high ceilings (and hasting shooting), the picture doesn't do it justice.

The "sauce" is canned pumpkin gently sauteed with some garlic and sage to take off the raw edge. I tossed it with penne, chopped leftover chicken breast, caramelized onions, chopped chestnuts (from a jar) and sauteed spinach. Then I used some of the pasta cooking water to loosen it up a bit.

I just loved this. I multiplied the recipe to serve 2 or 3, depending on your appetite. It is so filling and hearty. If you aren't the type to hoard jars of chestnuts around the holidays (therefore having them on hand on a random weeknight), you could skip it, or replace them with sauteed mushrooms. As a matter a fact, you could add a lot of different veggies or meat. It's the tasty pumpkin sauce that's kind of special here. And always remember: caramelized onions make anything wonderful.

Whole wheat penne with pumpkin, chestnuts, chicken and spinach
You can use rotisserie chicken if you’re not one to have leftovers on hand. You can also use chicken sausage or go veg and use cannellini beans. When I first made this, I used caramelized onions that I had on hand, but you can certainly cook up a fresh batch. To do it, thinly slice an onion and slowly cook it in 1 Tbs oil on medium-low to low for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once in a while.

Serves 2 to 3

1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 to 6 sage leaves, finely chopped, or pinch of dried thyme
1/4 cup caramelized onions
3 huge handfuls spinach leaves
6 oz whole wheat penne or rigatoni
6 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped
12 cooked (from jar or vacuum pack)chestnuts, broken up or chopped

Heat the butter in a nonstick skillet on medium low. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add pumpkin, season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing and turning, 3 minutes. Add sage or thyme and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a large bowl. Add onions.

Mist the same skillet with cooking spray and add spinach. Season and cook until wilted and tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in well-salted water to al dente. Before draining, reserve about 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Add pasta to bowl with pumpkin and combine. Microwave the chicken to warm it up, then stir it in along with the chestnuts. Stir in spinach. As you combine the pumpkin and pasta with the other ingredients, add reserved pasta water in small amounts to loosen up the consistency as desired. Divide among 2 or 3 bowls and top with grated Parmigiano. 


Amy @ Tasty Top said...

Whole wheat penne is a staple in my house hold. This sounds like a recipe for me to try out. Thanks for putting it up.

Jeanette said...

This sounds like a nice, healthy pasta dish. Love the idea of using pureed pumpkin in the sauce, and right now, I'm loving all the chestnuts.

London Accountant said...

I love how you said you just threw this together one night - naturally talented! It looks delicious.