Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Good news: pumpkin doesn't only have to be for desserts! Creamy, cheesy fall inspired comfort food. Bring this to the holiday table this year for a fun and creative addition! 

I mean.. you can't get much better than this. Here's the plan: Make pasta.. easy! Brown the sausage.. easy! Sauté the veggies.. easy! Make the sauce.. easy! Stir in all together and put into a baking dish.. EASY! Top with cheese and bake.. EASSSYY! 25-30 minutes later you have a bubbly, creamy, delicious dish of goodness to present and enjoy!

Make this dish ahead of time by doing everything except baking it. I love making this dish and putting half of it in the freezer for a mid-winter-I-don't-feel-like-cooking-dish. Just pop that baby in the oven and you're golden. 

This dish can serve 8-10 people. 

Alright - here's the recipe:

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Bake 

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

1 lb short cut pasta, like penne, rotini, rigatoni, fusilli 

1 lb ground Italian sausage or ground beef 

1 sweet onion, diced

1-2 large carrots, diced

1-2 celery stalks, diced

2-3 cloves garlic

1 cup mushrooms, diced

1 1/2 tablespoons Ting's Perfect Pasta Seasoning or Italian Seasoning

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (only if seasoning doesn't already have it)

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup champagne or rice wine vinegar 

1 cup vegetable stock

1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)

1 cup heavy cream or coconut cream

about 8 oz mozzarella, sliced or shredded, dairy free if needed

Garnish: fresh herbs, more cheese, toasted pecans etc.

1. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. 

2. Cook pasta according to box directions, until al dente. Drain and set aside. 

Ting's Tip: Always have all of your ingredients prepped, chopped, measured and ready to go before you start cooking. This will help the recipe come together easier and quicker! :)

3. In a large skillet or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, start with a tablespoon of olive oil, add sausage and cook until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

4. In the same skillet, over medium heat, add olive oil then onion, carrot, celery. Cook until onion is translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for another few minutes until mushrooms begin to brown. Add spices and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add tomato pasta, combining with all the veggies. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add vinegar to deglaze pan, scraping up all the browned bits at the bottom with a wooden spoon. Slowly pour in vegetable stock and stir until combined. Pour sausage back into the pot. Add pumpkin puree and stir until combined. This will thicken up the sauce. Remove from heat and pour in cream. Stir until combined. 

5. If necessary, transfer sauce to a large bowl. Combine cooked pasta with sauce. Transfer to an oven safe baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Garnish and serve!