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Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Submitted by Christen Stumpf

Christen Notes: “Pasta is one of my favorite comfort foods-the cheesier the better! But [I] wanted to find an option that satisfied my comfort-food cravings while keeping it healthy. So I stumbled across the idea of using pumpkin as my “cheesy” base, and from there was instantly hooked.”

Ingredients

– 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (or turkey sausage)

– 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage (or turkey sausage)

– 1- 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree

– 1/2 large vidalia onion (chopped small)

– 1 cup chicken stock

– 1/3 cup light cream

– 2 TBS low-fat cream cheese

– 2 cups fresh baby spinach, rinsed

– 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

– 1/3 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese

– 1 pound ziti, cooked and drained

– salt & pepper to taste

– Red Pepper flakes

– Italian seasoning

– cooking spray

– olive oil

 Directions

– Preheat oven to 375

– In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until cooked through. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain and remove excess fat. Discard all remaining from fat from pan.

– Pour a small amount (approx. 1 TBS) of olive oil to pan. Add onion, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning to pan and cook until soft, approximately 3-4 minutes.

– Stir in pumpkin puree, chicken stock, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to allow for a simmer for approximately 5 minutes.

– Keep skillet on low heat and stir in cream, cream cheese, and sausage.  Stir frequently until cream cheese and cream are incorporated.

– Simmer until sauce thickens slightly.

– Add baby spinach once sauce has thickened and stir to mix in fully.

– In an 8″ x 10″ baking dish, spray with cooking spray and add cooked, drained pasta

– Pour sausage and sauce mixture over ziti and mix to thoroughly cover pasta.

– top pasta with Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese

– Keep uncovered and bake until top is golden, 30-40 minutes.