I knew I wanted to do something different for my chocolate week main dish, but I had no idea what that would be. To get a little inspiration, I did an internet search on using chocolate in savory dishes. There were tons of fascinating information. One thing I learned is that many Italian cooks use chocolate in their savory dishes; one popular dish is pumpkin ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce with grated chocolate on top. It sounded interesting, and immediately I thought of my pumpkin sage cream sauce that I put on pasta. I decided to make that, add a hint of cocoa powder to it, and top it with both grated chocolate and Romano cheese. The chocolate is very, very subtle in this dish; it adds a nice depth of flavor and richness without being overtly chocolate. It’s a wonderful fall dish with an interesting twist. Try it tonight!
PASTA WITH COCOA PUMPKIN SAGE CREAM SAUCE
1 cup pumpkin puree (see note at end of recipe)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Salt and pepper
1 ½ - 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
½ - 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Freshly grated Romano cheese, for garnish
Grated bittersweet chocolate, for garnish
Cook your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions until it is al dente. While the pasta is cooking, make your sauce.
In a large skillet, combine the pumpkin puree and heavy cream over medium-high heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and let the sauce come to a simmer. Once it’s started to simmer, turn the heat down a bit and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes to thicken slightly. Stir in the chicken and sage and cook for another minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over the pasta and top with chopped parsley, grated Romano cheese, and grated bittersweet chocolate.
NOTE: I use fresh pumpkin puree whenever I can. Take one small pie pumpkin, lop of the top, cut it in half and remove the seeds (don’t throw them away, they are fantastic toasted in the oven). Cut the pumpkin into medium size chunks, put it on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake it at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until it is easily pierced with a fork. Take it out of the oven and let it cool until you can handle it. Pull of the pumpkin rind (it should peel right off) and put the pumpkin pieces into a food processor and puree it; if you need to, add a little water to get the consistency you want. The pumpkin puree freezes nicely for a couple of months, so you could roast several pumpkins, make puree, and freeze it in one cup increments for later use. If you don’t make fresh, and want to use canned pumpkin, make sure you buy pure pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling.
"Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, & who we want to be." -- Molly Wizenberg