Photos by Emily Caruso
Everyone is all about pumpkin spice right now and while I love pumpkin spice too, I also like pumpkin without the spice. Pumpkin is kind of like tofu in that it doesn’t really taste like anything. It’s mildly squashy (squashy is a word!), but it’s really all about what you add to it. The flavor and scent most people attribute to pumpkin is actually the spices commonly used with it—without those spices, pumpkin can be something completely different.
I’ve made a few pumpkin pasta recipes in the past two years and one of my favorites is Kitchen Treaty’s Creamy Pumpkin Baked Rigatoni. Pumpkin puree makes a great base for a pasta sauce—it’s naturally creamy, so it gives you an alfredo-like texture without having to use heavy cream. I adapted Kare’s recipe to make it into a baked ziti and added sage both to the sauce and as a topping—the mild flavor of the pumpkin sauce lets the sage really shine in this dish.
I tested this recipe with fontina as a topping at first, but we preferred using a good sharp white cheddar. So between the pumpkin sauce and the cheddar, this is really not an authentic baked ziti. (If you’re looking for a more authentic version, I have a Vegetable Baked Ziti recipe too!) That’s okay though! Even if it’s not authentic, I still think it’s the perfect baked ziti for fall.
This post was originally published on September 22, 2014.
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