Quick and Easy Pumpkin Pasta Bake

September 24, 2014

Pumpkin pasta bake is a quick and easy fall meal that the whole family will absolutely love.  You can use any short tubular pasta for this dish so feel free to use whatever kind you have on hand.  For this dish, al dente pasta is tossed in a creamy pumpkin sauce flavored with sage and nutmeg.  If you have the time, crispy bits of pancetta or bacon would be a wonderful addition.

Pumpkin Pasta Bake

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped into a small dice
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk 
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced sage leaves
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces whole wheat tubular pasta like ziti, penne or rigatoni
3/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Before adding pasta, generously salt the water with kosher salt or sea salt.  Cook the pasta according to package directions or until al dente.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a square baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile heat milk on the stove top or in the microwave until lukewarm. 

Sprinkle the flour into the skillet and stir until combined. Cook, continuously stirring, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Grab a whisk and slowly pour the lukewarm milk into the skillet, whisking it into the flour mixture. Once the milk is incorporated and the sauce is smooth, add the pumpkin to the skillet and whisk to combine. Let the sauce cook on medium heat until it's thickened, about 7 minutes, stirring often. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in parmigiano reggiano cheese, 1/4 cup of the sage leaves and a pinch of nutmeg. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper and then fold in the pasta. 

Transfer the mixture to a prepared baking dish and top with the shredded gruyere cheese. Cover the baking dish with foil and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes covered then remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and brown the top of the pasta, about 5 minutes.  Watch it carefully so that it doesn't burn. Take out the pasta and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving

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