Cool, crisp autumn mornings make me hungry. A few of my favorite recipes full of fall flavors may start showing up here and there.
Inspiration for my recipes comes from a variety of places. Many are revisions of old favorites. I also do a lot of “make it up as I go” cooking. These were kept in my head and changed every time I made them. I have just started taking the time to actually write things down.
I enjoy a good television cooking show and Rachel Ray is a favorite. But I don’t cook like Rachel, so I rarely actually make her recipes the way she writes them. I usually have to “tweak” them and every once in a while she inspires me to do something completely different.
I caught one of her “Lazy Lasagna” recipes and all I could think was why doesn’t she use another kind of pasta instead of breaking up good lasagna noodles? The why doesn’t she’s continued until I had a completely different recipe. I ended up with a dish with rotini pasta, chicken, spinach, cheese and a sauce with an unusual ingredient.
Rotini in Pumpkin Sauce
12 ounce carton low fat cottage cheese
2 cups spinach (or any dark leafy green) shredded
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
¼ cup cornstarch
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup milk
2 cups pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon lemon pepper
2 cups rotini (I used Tinkyada(R) Brown Rice Pasta Sprials which are gluten free)
2 cups diced cooked chicken (optional)
Combine cottage cheese, spinach, basil and ½ cup of the cheese and mix well. Put this in refrigerator until ready to use.
To make your sauce, put cornstarch in pan. Over medium heat slowly add broth to cornstarch using a wire whisk to blend as you add the broth. Keep whisking and add the milk. Continue cooking and whisking until sauce thickens. At this point your sauce will be very thick — don’t worry, it’s okay.
Add pumpkin puree, nutmeg and pepper to sauce, whisking to blend well. Reduce heat. At this point you just want to keep the sauce warm.
Cook your pasta according to package directions. It should still have a bit of a bite to it.
When pasta is done drain the water from the pasta. I like to drain my pasta and run water over it to remove the excess starch. Rachel not only doesn’t do this, she adds some of the cooking water to the dish. She learned to cook from her mother, I learned to cook from mine. We rinse the pasta.
Add the cottage cheese mixture to the pasta and stir gently to incorporate.
Add pumpkin sauce and stir to make sure the pasta is covered.
Pour mixture into a baking dish that has been lightly coated with pan spray. Top with remaining ½ cup of cheese (you may use more if desired).
Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.
This will make four servings as a one dish meal. With side dishes you could possibly serve 6.
Genie’s Note: This is one of those rare dishes we liked better warmed up the next day. The flavors blended much better and the pasta soaked up some of the sauce, but was not dry at all.