Pumpkin + Mushroom Pasta Bake

In honor of National Pasta Day, I'm sharing a seasonal treat for carb-lovers that combines savory pumpkin with the earthiness of mushrooms. Mozzarella delivers a delightfully ooey-gooey cheesiness, and while I typically prefer DeCecco brand dry pasta, I'm making an exception for Barilla rotini to add fun pops of color. This hearty dish is a family fave for chilly October evenings.

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Ingredients (makes 8 servings)

16 ounces dry pasta (I used Barilla Tri-Color Rotini. Penne, Ziti, or Rigatoni would also work well.)

8 ounces shredded mozzarella, divided 4 and 4

12 ounces sliced mushrooms (I prefer an equal mix of cremini and shiitake)

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree (100% pure pumpkin, not pie mix)

1 cup ricotta

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup vegetable stock (or more to desired consistency)

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

salt and pepper


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350F.


To cook the pasta

Cook to al dente per package instructions.


To cook the garlic and mushrooms

Add olive oil to a sauté pan. Heat over medium-low heat, and add the garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat until browned and tender, approximately 5-6 minutes.


To make the pumpkin cream sauce

In a large pot, combine the pumpkin, ricotta, and heavy cream. Stir together over medium-low heat, combining well. Slowly add the vegetable stock to desired consistency and whisk for approximately 2-3 minutes until a slightly thick, smooth sauce forms. Whisk in the dried onion powder and parsley. Continue whisking for approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.


To assemble for baking

Butter the inside of a baking dish (our 9.5"x12" stoneware Le Creuset, see above, was the perfect size) and spread half the pasta evenly across the bottom. Layer in half of the mushrooms. Ladle in a cup of the sauce, spreading evenly. Sprinkle 4 ounces of the mozzarella in an even layer. Repeat each step in order. Top with fresh oregano.


Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is bubbling. Broil for 2 minutes to brown the top.

Serve with a green salad and earthy red wine, like a cabernet franc. For leftovers, cover baking dish in foil and reheat in warm oven.