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Pumpkin Baked Ziti

October 26, 2010

Doesn’t the thought of pumpkin baked ziti make your stomach rumble?  I found this recipe when I was planning my meals for the week and I was so intrigued; I couldn’t resist.  The good news is that it was as tasty as I was hoping and the combination of flavors really enhanced one another.  The original recipe was a little bit heavier, so I changed up a few of the ingredients to make it work better with our healthy approach to cooking.

Here’s a round-up of the ingredients.  Somehow my red pepper flakes went missing…

Mixing the cooked pasta (I used penne since that is what I had on hand), fresh parsley with the sauce created from browned sausage and sautéed onions, garlic, chicken stock and pumpkin puree.

Decided to use festive containers for our two portions and filled the rest in a casserole dish for leftovers this week.

Pumpkin Baked Ziti
Yields: 8 Servings

1 pound Turkey sausage
3/4 cup Onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon Garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
2 tablespoon Olive oil
1 15-ounce can Pumpkin puree
1 cup Chicken stock
2 teaspoon Fresh sage (chopped)
2 teaspoon Salt
1 pound Ziti pasta (cooked)
2 tablespoon Fresh parsley (chopped)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Coat 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
2. Remove sausage from the casings and cook in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until fat is rendered about 8 minutes. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and set aside. Discard any fat from the skillet in excess of 2 tablespoons.
3. Add onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and oil to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until soft; about 3 minutes. Stir in pumpkin puree, chicken stock and sage. Mix together and add salt. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in sausage. Simmer until the sauce comes together and is thickened slightly.
4. Add cooked pasta and parsley to the skillet and gently toss all the ingredients together to coat. Place mixture in prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and bake for 35 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

Kate’s Tips: 

The original recipe calls for adding heavy cream to the sauce, but I chose to go without it to make it a little healthier.  As a result there wasn’t as much creaminess to combat the heat of the red pepper flakes and it ended up being too spicy for my taste (I am very weak when it comes to spice; my husband thought it was great!).  I would only put 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper if I was making it without the cream.  A little bit of heat would contrast the smokiness of the pumpkin and sage, but too much tends to overwhelm the palate.  Also, I made it with chicken sausage, but turkey sausage would also be a great low-calorie alternative.

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