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.
You see, sometimes pasta requires a little love and care to make it really, really good. So I started with a pumpkin puree infused marinara sauce mixed with turkey sausage, onion, garlic, mushrooms and red bell pepper.
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)!
Now it’s time for a little cheese!
While the pasta boils, you’ll mix together ricotta, fresh chopped mozzarella (you can also use shredded), parmesan and parsley. Then add the pasta to get it nice and coated with cheesy goodness. The cheese isn’t overdone here, it’s well balanced and doesn’t leave you feeling heavy.
You’ll mix a little of the sauce with the pasta/cheese mixture, then begin to layer in a pan. Pasta, sauce, extra mozzarella and then… repeat!
Finally, you’ll bake it up and 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.
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.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. And of course, I hope you’re LOVING pumpkin week so far. Xoxo!
More healthy pumpkin recipes you’ll love:
Saucy Baked Pumpkin Pasta
- 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
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.
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.
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.
While the pasta cooks: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 inch pan (or 9x9 inch) with olive oil. Set aside.
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.
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.
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.
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.