Pumpkin Polenta With Sausage, Fennel, & Roasted Pumpkin Ragu

A month or so ago on one of our excursions outside Umbria, while driving down a country road we spotted a farm selling all sorts of gourds and pumpkins. Since pumpkins and gourds aren’t as popular here in Italy as they are elsewhere and I rarely ever see them, I had my husband stop at the farm, so I could buy an armful of gourds to use as a fall display outside, and I bought three large, pretty pumpkins. We are now leaving Umbria in just over a week, and in my attempt to use up all our perishable foods before we leave, I roasted one of the larger pumpkins this week and had a “pumpkin” day in my kitchen. I baked pumpkin muffins, a pumpkin loaf, made pumpkin French toast, pumpkin macaroni and cheese, and finally, made this polenta dish. There are some days when you have an idea for a dish and the results are disappointing, while other days you totally hit a winner. Thankfully this polenta dish tasted even better than I had imagined, and will undoubtedly be one I will make often this fall. The pumpkin added a subtle sweetness to the creamy polenta, and the sausage, fennel & roasted pumpkin ragu on top was delicious.

In Italy, you cannot buy pumpkin in a can, so I roast a whole pumpkin to use in recipes. To roast a pumpkin, simply cut it into wedges, scoop out the seeds and place it on a baking sheet. Roast in a 400 degree F. oven until fork tender (the time depends entirely on the variety and freshness of the pumpkin). After it is roasted, simply use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the skin. I like to place the pumpkin flesh in a strainer over a bowl for a couple of hours to remove any excess liquid in the pumpkin flesh before I use it for recipes.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2012

Pumpkin Polenta With Sausage, Fennel, & Roasted Pumpkin Ragu

Pumpkin puree adds a subtle sweetness to creamy polenta which is then topped with a hearty sausage ragu.

Ingredients:

Roasted Pumpkin:
2 1/2 Cups Diced Pumpkin Or Other Winter Squash
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Sausage Ragu:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Links Italian Sausage, Meat Removed From Casings
1 Medium Onion, Peeled & Diced
1 Fennel Bulb, Trimmed, Cored & Diced
3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
1 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Sage
Salt & Pepper
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
Pumpkin Polenta:
1 Cup Quick Or Instant Polenta
2 Cups Pumpkin Puree
1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Sage
Salt & Pepper
3 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
1 Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
2 Tablespoons Butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the diced pumpkin with the olive oil and spread over a baking sheet.
Bake the pumpkin until fork tender and lightly browned, turning once or twice while baking, then set aside until needed.
In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the sausage meat until lightly browned, breaking it up as it cooks.
Add the onions and fennel to the skillet, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic to the skillet and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
Add the sage, season and salt and pepper, then add the wine.
Cook over medium high heat until the wine has almost completely dissolved into the ragu, mix in the parsley and roasted pumpkin, and keep warm.
In a pot, mix the polenta with the broth, pumpkin puree, sage, salt and pepper and cook until tender following manufacture's directions.
Once cooked, stir the butter and grated cheese into the polenta.
Spoon the polenta onto four individual bowls, then top with sausage ragu and serve immediately.



 

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