Pumpkin sausage baked ziti is perfect for autumn and very freezer-friendly.
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!
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 .
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and grease either a disposable aluminum casserole pan or a glass or ceramic baking dish.
- Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water, according to the package directions.
- 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.
- Add the crumbled sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is n olonger pink on the inside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes.
- 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.