Spicy Sausage and Fennel with Pumpkin Cauliflower

I.  Love.  Fall.

And with fall comes a plethora of new fall-inspired foods, desserts, and drinks!  So here is the first of many fall-inspired dishes.  This dish has pumpkin in it, which I love for the obvious reason (it tastes good) and for the not-so-obvious reason (it's good for you - lots of antioxidants, vitamin A and fiber). 

This dish is by far our favorite "fall" dinner, but the original dish by Rachel Ray called for pumpkin-flavored polenta, and we're trying to avoid carbs.  So I decided to substitute mashed cauliflower for the polenta, and it worked out great.  If you've never tried fennel, it is amazing, so don't be bashful!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. bulk sausage (we use hot italian sausage)
1 lb. ground chicken
1 head cauliflower, cut into large pieces, stem removed
2 heads fennel, cored and thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 15oz can pumpkin puree (Be careful NOT to buy the pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil.  Brown the sausage and chicken for 5 - 10 minutes.  Remove the meat from the pan and let drain on a paper towel. 

Meanwhile, puree the raw cauliflower in a food processor until fine.  In a large pot over medium heat, add the pureed cauliflower and about 1/4 cup water, and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes until soft.  Turn the heat down to low and keep warm until ready to eat.

Add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil to the saute pan, and add the sliced fennel and onions.  Add the red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and season with salt and pepper.  Saute until cooked through and caramelized, about ten minutes.  Return the sausage to the pan and de-glaze the pan with the white wine, and let reduce for about 2 minutes then turn the saute pan off. 

Season the cauliflower generously with salt and pepper, add the pumpkin puree, Parmesan cheese, and nutmeg.  Stir to combine. 

Serve a generous amount of the sauteed vegetables and sausage on top of the cauliflower mash.


  1. Love how you combined pumpkin with the cauliflower puree. The addition of fennel and sausage just knock it out of the park. Would love to eat this meal. Thanks for sharing on Thursdays Treasures.

  2. What a bam-pow for your mouth!! Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday linky party!

  3. wow, so good! by chance i had just made mashed cauliflower with pumpkin when i found your recipe above. had some leftover so added it to your recipe, but used chicken breasts sauteed with anise seeds, red pepper flakes, and oregano instead of the sausage (just for a healthier version) and it was so delish! i will be making this again, for sure, and will definitely make it with the sausage too. you could use so many different things for the protein. thanks for sharing!


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