Not only is it officially autumn but I was toying with the idea of turning on the heat the other day. I held out, for the time being, but that means it's also now hot cheesy pasta bake season.
This recipe is made in only a couple of pans and is loaded with beef, pasta, cheese and pumpkin. Yes, pumpkin. I'm talking about the unsweetened puree in a can that I hoard this time of year. It not only adds nutrition but a great flavor.
This dish contains several store bought shortcuts, like the canned pumpkin and jarred tomato sauce, but it still comes together like the best home-cooked, from scratch comfort food.
Feel free to use any type of pasta you like but choose something that holds onto sauce well. Ziti would be a great choice but I really love the size and shape of orecchiette. You can bake it right in the pan you use to make the sauce or transfer it to a pretty casserole dish. This will be a family favorite. Enjoy!
Pasta Bake with Beef and Pumpkin
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Onion, peeled and diced
- 2 Cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 lb. Ground beef
- 2 Cups tomato sauce, homemade or store bought
- 1 Cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 1/2 Cup milk
- 1 Teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 Teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 Teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 Cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 lb. Pasta (I used orecchiette)
- Add the olive oil and onion to a large skillet and saute for a few minutes until the onion softens. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute. Add the ground beef and brown, stirring often.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, milk and pumpkin puree and simmer on medium low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Stir in the Parmesan and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and toss the pasta in with the sauce. If your skillet is oven proof, you can leave the mixture in there or transfer it to a casserole dish. Top with the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.