Monday, October 26, 2009

Baked Pumpkin Ziti Alfredo

Call it a minor obsession, but I can't get enough of the autumnal flavors of the season!

1lb Gluten Free Quinoa Ziti (regular pasta will work just fine)
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage, removed from casings [1]
1 Medium Yellow Onion, small dice
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
15-oz Pumpkin Puree
1 ½ Cup Chicken Stock
¼ Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 ½ Tsp Cinnamon
½ Tsp Nutmeg
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 ½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbs Fresh Sage Leaves, chopped
1 Tbs Fresh Parsley, chopped
Salt & Pepper [2]

Preheat oven to 375º
In a large saucepan bring 4-5 quarts (*4 cups in a quart*) of water and 4 Tbs of salt to a boil. Add pasta and cooks for two minutes less then the instructions indicate (6-8 minutes). Pasta will be a little undercooked; it will finish cooking in the sauce. Drain and rinse with cold water immediately.

Heat Olive Oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat, add Sausage. Once sausage is fully cooked and browned remove from pan and set aside. Using the oil remaining in the pan, sauté onions until translucent. Reduce heat and add garlic, cook for 1 more minute. Stir in Pumpkin Puree, Chicken Stock, Red Pepper Flakes, Cinnamon and Nutmeg until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and ½ cup Parmesan Cheese. Season with Salt & Pepper.

Mix together Sauce, Noodles, Sausage, Parsley and Sage in the large saucepan. Pour pasta into a 9x13" greased baking pan and top with remaining Parmesan Cheese [3]. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown.

*Veggie-pack your pasta by baking it in a winter squash
  • Pre-heat oven to 375º
  • Cut squash in half and remove seeds
  • Take a small slice off the bottom of each half to create a flat surface, allowing the squash to stand upright.
  • Roast squash in a greased glass baking dish, for 30-45 minutes (depending on size), until the flesh is soft but shape is maintained
  • Spoon pasta into squash and top with Parmesan Cheese
  • Return squash to oven and bake for an addition 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and browned.

Recipe Notes:
[1] To remove the casing from a fresh, raw link sausage, snip off the end of the sausage with kitchen shears, then squeeze the sausage filling from the casing, like squeezing toothpaste from a tube. - Courtesy of Bon Apetit

[2] This dish will need salt and pepper. Because of all the salty variables (type of sausage, cheese, stock) there is no set amount I recommend. Be sure to season after all the ingredients have been combined.

[3] This a great make-a-head-dinner! Stop here if you are going keep this dish in the freezer. To reheat pasta from the freezer: Allow pasta to defrost in the refrigerated as long as possible (overnight is preferred). Cover pasta with foil and bake in a 350º oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes. Insert butter knife into the center of the pasta to test for doneness. If the inserted portion of the knife comes out hot = the center is hot!

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