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Washington, DC has enjoyed the most mild and beautiful seasons in recent memory.  In a city we so fondly call “Swamptown,” we’ve left extreme humidity and waltzed through September tousled in mid-70s breezes and a low golden sun.  Its hard to believe that the time has come for pumpkins, squash and sweet potatoes.

To try to talk myself into autumn excitement, I played around with a few flavors of fall and came up with this unique pumpkin pasta salad, complimented by kale, cremini mushrooms, and toasted pine nuts.  It can be served warm or chilled.

Ingredients:

Sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
dash of cayenne pepper if desired

Salad
3 cups orecchiette pasta, cooked
1 cup cremini or baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 shallot, chopped finely
½ cup shredded kale
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

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Make a roux with the butter and flour.  Slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk.  Add in pumpkin puree, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.  Simmer over low heat for at least 15 minutes.

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Warm a medium-sized pan to high heat.  Add mushrooms to the pan without oil and allow them to cook.  Avoid turning too much so that mushrooms maintain a good shape and do not turn mushy.

Remove mushrooms and set aside.  In the same pan, sauté shallots.  Add shredded kale and cook down until the kale is a rich green color.

Pour warm sauce over cooked pasta.  The pasta will absorb the sauce best if the pasta is just out of the pot after boiling.   Add mushrooms, kale, shallots, and toasted pine nuts.

Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving or serve warm.  Pairs well with roasted chicken or pork chops and a cabernet franc.

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