Saucy Baked Pumpkin Pasta

Saucy, healthy baked pumpkin pasta made with creamy pumpkin puree, ground turkey sausage, veggies and layers of cheese. This easy, cheesy pumpkin pasta bake is a wonderful fall twist on traditional baked ziti! Use your favorite pasta for this comforting, lightened up pasta dish.

Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins

Welcome back to #AKPumpkinWeek! Today I’m sharing a deliciously creamy pumpkin baked pasta that’s gonna knock your socks off.

Admittedly, pasta isn’t something I usually go for. Growing up, it wasn’t something that was on our dinner menu all that often. If anything, I had more noodles during my college years in the form of $1 creamy chicken ramen noodles with peas and extra cayenne pepper (thank you very much).

Even when Olive Garden was the place to be in high school, I’d find myself eating their warm breadsticks and endless salad bowls instead of a big old bowl of fettuccine alfredo. (Honestly though, how good are their glorious breadsticks?!)

Later on in life, I met my now husband, who adores pasta (he’s Italian so I can’t blame him). It’s taken me a bit of time to truly adore pasta but more recently I’ve fallen in love with how I’ve been able to incorporate veggies into our main pasta dishes; and admittedly, how easy it can be to throw a pot of pasta together when I’m feeling like I just wanna watch Billions.

For example a few weeks ago, I made a super creamy thai peanut butter pasta on Instagram; it was fabulous and literally took 30 minutes from start to finish. But before I bring you that recipe, we MUST start with this baked pumpkin pasta, guaranteed to make you cozy this fall and winter

healthy baked pumpkin pasta in a baking dish with a spoon

Ingredients in healthy baked pumpkin pasta

This delicious pumpkin pasta bake has tons of incredible flavors thanks to the homemade pumpkin meat sauce and plenty of herbs and spices. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • For the veggies: olive oil, garlic, white onion, red bell pepper & baby bella mushrooms.
  • For the meat: lean ground turkey, Italian seasoning, paprika, red pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper), nutmeg, salt & pepper.
  • For the rest of the sauce: your favorite red pasta sauce (I like marinara) & pumpkin puree.
  • For the cheese mixture: ricotta, fresh mozzarella and freshly grated parmesan.
  • For the pasta: I like using ziti noodles, but feel free to use any pasta shape you’d like. Gluten free if desired, too.
  • To garnish: fresh parsley or sage and extra parmesan cheese.

meat sauce, noodles, and cheese in a bowl to make baked pumpkin pasta

How to make pumpkin pasta sauce

You see, sometimes pasta requires a little love and care to make it really, really good. So for the meat sauce I started with a pumpkin puree infused marinara sauce mixed with turkey sausage, onion, garlic, mushrooms and red bell pepper. To make it:

  1. Add olive oil to a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions, red bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until onions begin to soften and mushrooms cook down, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Next add in ground turkey, breaking up the meat, and cook until turkey is no longer pink.
  3. Add in the seasonings: italian seasoning, paprika, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Stir for about 30 seconds to incorporate seasonings into the meat, then immediately add in the pasta sauce and pumpkin puree.
  4. Stir together, and reduce heat to low and simmer while you cook your pasta.

The sauce is SO delicious and slightly sweet, plus you get the benefit and simplicity of using your favorite jar of sauce and a can of pumpkin puree (or make your own here)!

mixing ingredients for a pumpkin pasta bake in a bowl

How to make baked pumpkin pasta

  1. Once your sauce is simmering on the stove, it’s time to cook your pasta. Add water to a large pot of water and add a pinch of salt. Once boiling, add your pasta and cook until pasta is just barely al-dente. We want the pasta to have a nice bite to it. Once pasta is cooked, drain, then rinse with cool water.
  2. While the pasta cooks: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 inch pan (or 9×9 inch) with olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Next make your cheese mixture: In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, ½ of the mozzarella pieces and parmesan cheese until just combined. Stir in the cooked pasta and 2 cups of the meat sauce. Add a little salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add half of the pasta mixture to the prepared pan. Top with half of remaining meat sauce and then half of remaining mozzarella pieces. Repeat with remaining pasta, meat sauce and mozzarella.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pasta is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with extra parmesan and parsley before serving.

I love how the cheese isn’t overdone here, it’s well balanced and doesn’t leave you feeling heavy. You’ll end up with a bubbly pasta dish packed with veggies, lean ground meat and delicious pasta. It’s creamy and SO comforting and you get a BIG serving.

unbaked cheesy baked pumpkin pasta in a baking dish

Make ahead healthy baked pumpkin pasta

If you’d like, you can freeze this recipe for later and reheat too! It makes excellent meal prep leftovers and is paired well with my famous crunchy herbed garlic bread.

  1. Prep it ahead of time: feel free to make this pumpkin pasta bake ahead of time and bake it a day or two later! Simply make the recipe as directed, cover with foil and place in fridge until ready to bake. You make need to add 5-10 minutes of extra baking time.
  2. Freezer friendly option: if you want to make this baked pumpkin pasta recipe ahead of time, simply make the recipe as directed, put it in a freezer-safe container pan like these, cover and place in the freezer until you’re ready to bake. Once ready to bake, thaw out the pumpkin pasta bake in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, bake as directed!

lifting a scoop of baked pumpkin pasta out of a baking dish

Customize this healthy baked pumpkin pasta recipe

  • Make vegetarian: Use 1 can of white beans instead of the turkey. It will still be delicious! Just stir in the beans to the tomato sauce/veggie mixture.
  • Make gluten free: I suggest using your favorite gluten free pasta. I love Banza pasta brand.
  • Adjust the spice: this recipe isn’t spicy but if you’re extra sensitive to spice simply leave off the red pepper flakes. If you love spice (like me) garnish with extra red pepper flakes before serving!

healthy baked pumpkin pasta on a plate with a fork

More healthy pumpkin recipes you’ll love

Slow Cooker Black Bean Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Spicy Black Bean Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sour Cream Sauce

Nourishing Yellow Chickpea Pumpkin Curry with Coconut Brown Rice

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Peanut Butter Chicken Soup

Vegetarian Spinach Pumpkin Lasagna

I hope you love this saucy baked pumpkin pasta recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Saucy Baked Pumpkin Pasta

5 from 6 votes
baked pumpkin pasta in a baking dish with a spoon
Course Dinner, Gluten Free, Lunch, Pasta
Cuisine American
Keyword baked pumpkin pasta, pumpkin pasta bake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Serves 6

Saucy, healthy baked pumpkin pasta made with creamy pumpkin puree, ground turkey sausage, veggies and layers of cheese. This easy, cheesy pumpkin pasta bake is a wonderful fall twist on traditional baked ziti! Use your favorite pasta for this comforting, lightened up pasta dish.

Ingredients

  • For the sauce:
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 pound 94% lean ground turkey*
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or a dash of cayenne pepper)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (25 ounce) jar marinara pasta sauce (or whatever sauce you love best)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 8 ounces ziti or pasta of choice (use gluten free pasta if GF)
  • For the cheese mixture:
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small bite sized pieces and divided (you can also use about 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • To garnish:
  • Fresh chopped parsley or sage
  • Extra parmesan

Instructions

  1. Add olive oil to a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions, red bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until onions begin to soften and mushrooms cook down, about 4-5 minutes. 
  2. Next add in ground turkey, breaking up the meat, and cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add in the seasonings: italian seasoning, paprika, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Stir for about 30 seconds. to incorporate seasonings into the meat, then immediately add in the pasta sauce and pumpkin puree. Stir together, and reduce heat to low and simmer while you cook your pasta.
  3. Add water to a large pot of water and add a pinch of salt. Once boiling, add your pasta and cook until pasta is just barely al-dente. We want the pasta to have a nice bite to it. Once pasta is cooked, drain, then rinse with cool water.
  4. While the pasta cooks: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 inch pan (or 9x9 inch) with olive oil. Set aside.
  5. Next make your cheese mixture: In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, ½ of the mozzarella pieces and parmesan cheese until just combined. Stir in the cooked pasta and 2 cups of the meat sauce. Add a little salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  6. Add half of the pasta mixture to the prepared pan. Top with half of remaining meat sauce and then half of remaining mozzarella pieces. Repeat with remaining pasta, meat sauce and mozzarella.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pasta is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with extra parmesan and parsley before serving. Serves 6-8.

Recipe Notes

To make vegetarian: Use 1 can of white beans instead of the turkey. It will still be delicious! Just stir in the beans to the tomato sauce/veggie mixture.

To make gluten free I suggest using your favorite gluten free pasta. I love Banza pasta brand.

Nutrition
Servings: 6 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 6)
Calories: 481kcal
Fat: 18.5g
Saturated fat: 8.3g
Carbohydrates: 45.8g
Fiber: 6g
Sugar: 7.9g
Protein: 34.1g

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