Pumpkin Sausage Baked Ziti

Pumpkin sausage baked ziti is perfect for autumn and very freezer-friendly.

Pumpkin Sausage Ziti - Freezer-Friendly! // SavvyEat.com

It is finally happening: we’re painting our kitchen. When we first bought our house 3 1/2 years ago, there weren’t many big repairs to be made, but there were a lot of things we wanted to update from an aesthetics or functionality standpoint. We tackled some of those projects right away: we tore down the 1950s wheat print wallpaper in the dining room, painted the office a light blue instead of chocolate brown, and refinished a freestanding closet into a pantry. But there is one thing we never got to: the kitchen walls and cabinets.

The cabinets are dingy and the paint is chipping, and are the kind of off-white that looks dirty no how much you scrub. Now, enough is enough. By this time next week, the walls, shelves and cabinets will be a clean, sparkling white. Hooray!

Unfortunately, this means that the kitchen will be largely unusable for most of next week. To prepare, I’m prepping some freezer meals so that the only thing we need to do is defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven. I’m starting with this baked ziti: pumpkin replaces the typical tomato sauce to make the pasta seasonally appropriate. I also added my favorite Italian sausage and a whole bunch of sage, because I love that flavor combination, especially at this time of the year.

To freeze baked pasta dishes, just follow the same instructions you would for freezing lasagna. Freeze the casserole before you bake it, and defrost in the refrigerator the day beforehand. I prefer to freeze in disposable aluminum pans because they are more sturdy, but you can also line a glass pan with foil and lift the pasta out once it is frozen.

So let’s make some baked ziti!

Pumpkin Sausage Ziti // savvyeat.com

Pumpkin Sausage Baked Ziti

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8

Pumpkin Sausage Baked Ziti

This baked ziti is layered with flavor thanks to the pumpkin cream sauce, two types of cheese and sweet Italian sausage. To freeze for later, follow these instructions .

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, crumbled
  • Scant 2 cups pumpkin puree (or one 15-ounce can)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup sage, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease either a disposable aluminum casserole pan or a glass or ceramic baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water, according to the package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute just until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the crumbled sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is n olonger pink on the inside.
  5. Stir in the pumpkin, milk, sage and salt. Cook, stirring just every once in awhile, until the sauce is bubbly and thick. It should take 7-8 minutes.
  6. Toss the pasta with the pumpkin sauce and the Parmesan cheese and pour into the prepared pan. Top with an even layer of sliced mozzarella.
  7. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes.
  8. To make the cheese browned and bubbly, turn the broiler to High and broil for 5 minutes. Otherwise, cook for an additional 5 minutes, uncovered.
http://www.savvyeat.com/pumpkin-sausage-baked-ziti/

Compound Butter for Freezing

Compound-Butter

Making compound butter is an easy way to preserve fresh garden herbs. Try making butter with a single herb or a mix of several. I like to use combinations of sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil. This post was updated on October 7, 2014.

Stalwart rosemary, buttoned-up thyme, flirty sage, cheerful oregano: I can’t pull off Thanksgiving without them. Frustratingly, I know that they will go into hibernation mode, turning dark and shriveled for the winter, about a month before the holiday feast. It is their time to truly shine, and I’m going to be stuck buying them from the grocery store instead of using them fresh out of the garden? A tragedy. And that’s why I’m making herby compound butter now, and freezing it until November. I’m making two batches with oregano, thyme and rosemary, and another with just sage.  Later, I’ll slice them to stuff under the skin of our turkey, to brown and simmer with winter squash and to blend into mashed potatoes.

Thyme

Making your own herb compound butter is incredibly easy. Here’s all you need:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh herb leaves

To make your herb butter:

  1. Blend the butter with the herbs until completely mixed.
  2. Press the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap into a long, narrow log. It doesn’t need to look pretty; it will get smoothed out later!
  3. Fold the short ends of the plastic wrap in, then tightly roll up the butter in the plastic wrap lengthwise, just like the way you roll a burrito. Roll the wrapped butter back and forth on the counter to create a smooth, round log.
  4. Wrap the butter log in a piece of aluminum foil. Label and freeze.

To freeze your herb butter:

Wrap the compound butter tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. Butter picks up odors easily, so the foil will protect it from developing off-flavors from the other foods in your freezer. The butter should be used within 2-3 months.