Fall Baked Ziti

The only thing I like about fall is the fashion and the flavors/produce. This go-to fall baked ziti dish featuring the easiest pumpkin sauce ever is great for all evenings whether you're entertaining friends or cooking on a busy weeknight. While I added some sage-chicken sausage for a bit of a smokier profile, you can definitely omit for a vegetarian option.

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3/4 pound ziti or rigatoni noodles (whole grain adds nicely to the flavors and textures), cooked to al dente

1 pound sage sausage (can omit for vegetarian friendly option)

1 cup+ Brussels sprouts, halved and sautéed in EVOO and S+P

1 Vidalia onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 sage leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of red pepper flakes

pinch of cinnamon

1/2 cup white wine (I used Mirin)

1/2 cup vegetable stock

15 oz can pumpkin puree

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup non-fat/reduced fat ricotta cheese

panko breadcrumb and Parmesan cheese mixture for sprinkling on top before baking

- your pasta is cooked and your Brussels are nearly cooked, it's  time for sauce prep!

BegIn by sautéing the onions, chopped sage and garlic in a large saucepan with a dash of EVOO. Sprinkle them with the nutmeg, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Add the white wine and let it reduce to half the volume. Meanwhile, completely combine the pumpkin purée and ricotta in a bowl and gradually mix into your pan. Add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and cook for about 5-7 minutes more on med/high, constantly stirring. 

In a non-stick baking pan, combine cooked pasta, cooked sausage cooked Brussels sprouts with sauce and mix well. Sprinkle breadcrumb/Parmesan cheese mix on top and bake on 375° for about 15 minutes or until top is golden brown.