We’ve lived in the South for a while now, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s really hard to gauge exactly when fall begins down here. The air doesn’t really crisp up down here like it does in the Midwest, where I grew up. We’re still in t-shirts and shorts! That said, the humidity down here has finally reached the “It’s not too oppressive anymore” state and the calendar told me that autumn has officially started. So, I’m going with it.
I’m one of those pumpkin spice obsessed people when fall does finally roll around. I love those warmer spices, those cozy coffees, and savory dishes. Last year, I posted a delicious recipe for Pumpkin and Ricotta Stuffed Shells. It was really tasty, and I was excited when I came across this recipe for another pumpkin pasta a couple of months ago. When I saw it, though, I was still sweating miserably and thinking of watermelon and air conditioning. Now that it’s “officially” fall, I decided to try it out.
I put a pot of water to boil on the stove for the pasta, and then started by browning up some sweet Italian sausage along with some fresh, chopped sage.
Once that was done, my water was boiling, so in went the rigatoni. Into the same pan I’d browned the sausage in, I added a can of solid-pack pumpkin, some milk (I used skim), a bit of low-fat cream cheese, some shredded Asiago cheese, a dash of pumpkin pie spice and salt.
** I just noticed, as I’m writing this up, that I used a smaller can of pumpkin than originally suggested in the recipe! I used a 15 oz. can, the recipe calls for a 29 oz. can! I’m going to post the recipe as I made it, but if you’d like to substitute a larger can, go for it and let me know how it is! It was perfectly delicious with the smaller can. 🙂
Before I knew it, I had a beautiful, cheesy, creamy pumpkin spiced sauce. My pasta was ready. I scooped out a cup of the pasta liquid, and then drained the rest of the pasta.
The rigatoni went back into the pot and I added the sausage, pumpkin sauce, and the cup of pasta water . Once it was all mixed together nicely, I poured it into a 9×13 baking dish and topped it with some crunchy Panko breadcrumbs and a little bit more of that Asiago cheese.
It baked in the oven for about 20 minutes, until it was nice and bubbly, and then I turned the broiler on, just for a minute or two, until the top started to brown up a bit. Those Panko bread crumbs toast up so nicely.
It may have been 80 degrees outside yesterday, but at dinner time, it was officially fall in Georgia. The pasta was delicious, creamy and rich. The sausage, pumpkin, spices and sage all blended together in perfect harmony. It’s another pumpkin pasta for the books!
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BAKED PUMPKIN AND SAUSAGE RIGATONI
Adapted from Family Circle
- 12 oz. sweet Italian sausage (either bulk sausage or 4 links, casings removed)
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
- 1 can (15 oz.) solid pack pumpkin
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 4 oz. low-fat cream cheese
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- 1 cup, plus 2 Tbsp., grated Asiago cheese
- 3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 lb. rigatoni
- 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Heat the oven to 350*. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove top.
- In a large skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat, breaking apart with a spoon as it cooks. Once browned, stir in the sage and continue to cook for 1 minute. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl, discard the drippings, and set the sausage aside.
- In the same skillet, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, cream cheese, egg yolks, 1 cup of the Asiago, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir over medium heat until cheeses are melted and the sauce is nice and smooth.
- Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni in the boiling water 1 minute less than package directions, about 1 minute. Drain, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta to the pot and combine with the sausage, pumpkin sauce and pasta water. Mix well to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.
- Top with the Panko and extra Asiago.
- Bake at 350* for 20 minutes. Turn the broiler on HIGH and cook for 1-2 minutes more, until top is lightly browned.