A lightened-up vegetarian comfort dish perfect for fall – Pumpkin and kale are mixed with pasta and cheese and baked to golden perfection.
Disclosure: By posting this recipe I, as a member of the Recipe Redux, am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
Seeing all my neighbors busting out their Halloween decorations for their yards and door fronts has confirmed that, yes, it is October. I swear, Tim and I must be the laziest, most un-festive people. Either that or our neighbors are exceptionally diligent. In any case, although the outside of our house may not be very representative of the season, the aroma of pumpkin has penetrated every nook and cranny on the inside.
While I’ve been making tons of pumpkin desserts, like these pumpkin and raisin peanut butter cups, I’ve decided to move onto savory dishes now. Starting with this pumpkin and kale pasta bake in celebration of National Pasta Month!
I’ve made this dish many.many times now with all kinds of pasta – lasagna, spaghetti, rotini – and it comes out delicious every time. It’s become my go-to meal for when I’m short on time but still want to get some nutrients in the form of veggies OR when I need to feed an army of people. I love how it stretches my dollar, too. Since it’s just me and the Hungryman, we can enjoy leftovers for days! It freezes beautifully as well.
Give those knife skills a whirl, and then stir, mix, and dump. The prep work takes less than 30 minutes, the majority of which is spent waiting for the water to boil. Easy peasy. Then into the oven it goes…and voila!
The flavors of an autumn harvest permeated each bite thanks to the sweet, earthy pumpkin and the hearty, pleasantly bitter kale. The addition of a spicy tomato sauce really kept the sweetness level of the dish in check, and the cheese helped glue everything together on the pasta tubes. I was so happy that I used rigatoni as the hollow centers filled up with sauce creating little pockets of tasty goodness.
For you omnivores out there looking for a little more protein, feel free to add in a lean protein source like chicken or lean ground beef (a la the Hungryman way).
Vegetarian Pumpkin and Kale Pasta Bake
- 16 oz. package of rigatoni
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms chopped
- 1 bunch of kale about 3 cups, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup low sodium broth of choice
- 1/2-3/4 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
- 1 large egg
- 15 oz. container of whole fat ricotta
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or less. See note)
- 2 cups favorite tomato sauce
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until almost al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In the meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add mushroom and kale and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until slightly cooked down. Pour in wine and cook until reduced. Stir in herbs, season with salt and pepper, and turn off heat.
- Combine pumpkin, egg, ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, kale mixture, and pasta in a large bowl. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in mixture and spread evenly. Top with remaining mozzarella.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted on top. Remove from oven and serve warm.