How to make pumpkin Alfredo penne with chicken in a slow cooker (video)

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I try to eat vegetables with every meal, but some nights all I really want is a big bowl of creamy, cheesy noodles. That’s where this dish comes in. It’s classic comfort food with a healthful, seasonal twist. Pumpkin adds subtle sweetness and a lovely marigold hue to creamy Parmesan sauce; it also packs in nutrients.
Fettuccine is the traditional noodle for Alfredo sauce, but I find that penne holds up better in thick sauce. The chicken breasts in this recipe are left whole during cooking and shredded just before you add the noodles, which prevents the meat from drying out. Sage is an unusual ingredient in a cheese sauce, but it complements the earthy flavor of the pumpkin beautifully.
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Cooktop Cove 
Slow cooker pumpkin alfredo penne with chicken
8
10 minutes
3 hours
3 hours, 10 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces uncooked penne (regular or gluten free)
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
Coat the inside of a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker with olive oil. Add garlic, pumpkin, chicken breasts, sage, sea salt and red pepper. Add chicken broth and heavy cream. Stir to combine. Cook on high for 2 hours, or until chicken registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit when thermometer is inserted.
Remove chicken and place on a cutting board. Cool slightly, and then shred.
Return shredded chicken to the slow cooker. Add penne and stir. Cook for an additional 1 hour, or until pasta is cooked through.
Stir in Parmesan cheese. If sauce is too thick, thin with hot water, adding a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Pro tip: Want to make this decadent dish even more nutritious? Stir in 2 cups of chopped broccoli or cauliflower when you add the penne.
Note: All slow cookers are a little bit different in temperature and calibration. This recipe was tested in Cooktop Cove's Test Kitchen using this slow cooker, which is available for purchase here.
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