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 or spray with olive oil the inside of a baking dish (our 3.5 quart Staub pumpkin cocotte, 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.