Pasta, cheese and pumpkin in one dish? Daphne makes them all come together with this tasty dish!
CHEESY PUMPKIN PASTA BAKE
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus more for greasing casserole dish)
2 medium sugar pumpkin (halved, seeds removed, skin on)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
3/4 cup pecorino cheese (grated, divided)
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage (removed from casing)
2 shallots (peeled, minced)
2 tablespoons thyme leaves (plus more for garnish)
1/2 pound cavatappi pasta (1/4 cup pasta water reserved)
1/2 pound ball fresh mozzarella (torn into bite size pieces)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.
Drizzle each pumpkin half with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down onto prepared baking sheet. Roast in oven for 1 hour, until fork tender and golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Scoop out the flesh of 1 full pumpkin and reserve for puree. Remove skin from remaining pumpkin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Lower the oven to 400ºF.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Once melted, add the turkey sausage, breaking it into small pieces using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the shallot and thyme, cook for 5 minutes, until translucent and fragrant. Set aside until ready to build pasta.
Into the bowl of a food processor, add the reserved roasted pumpkin, chicken stock, Greek yogurt and 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Pulse until smooth. Add pumpkin puree mixture and sausage mixture to the cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and toss until well coated. Fold in the remaining cubed roasted pumpkin and the torn mozzarella.
Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top with extra grated parmesan. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
For the Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt. Add pasta and cook 2-3 minutes less than the package directions. Strain, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water and place pasta into a large bowl.
Tip: 1. Use your favorite fall squash in this dish!
2. If you are in a rush, substitute canned pumpkin puree instead of roasting the pumpkin.
3. The perfect make-ahead dish. Assemble the casserole, place in the refrigerator and bake for 20 minutes before serving.