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Easy Family Recipes: Baked Ziti with Pumpkin and Sausage

Baked Ziti with Pumpkin and SausageReady for all of the little goblins and ghouls ready to come knocking this week? Me too! So that I can focus on the fun, one of my grand Halloween traditions is to always prepare something super easy and yummy for dinner that evening. It shouldn’t take too much hands-on cooking time and needs to keep warm without getting dry or ooky. You and I both know that it’s uber-important to get something in the little guy’s bellies before they candy themselves into oblivion, and this fall-themed pumpkiny pasta will do just the trick. Not only is it loaded with beta carotene with all that pumpkin for excellent nighttime vision, but it’s got fresh baby spinach too (gotta love those greens). If you like, you can even prepare it in advance, just be sure to add cooking time if it’s cold (possibly as much as double).


Baked Ziti with Pumpkin & Sausage

Serves: 6 generously

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 cups dry regular or whole-wheat ziti
  • 1 15-ounce can Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1  12-ounce can Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Fat Free Milk
  • 4 links (12 ounces) fully cooked Italian-seasoned chicken sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 package (6 ounces) or about 4 cups pre-washed baby spinach
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim or 2% milk reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 4-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside for later use. Drain pasta; return to cooking pot.

Meanwhile, combine pumpkin, flour, garlic powder, salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in medium skillet over medium heat. Slowly add evaporated milk, whisking until smooth.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken slightly. Pour over pasta in pot. Add sausage and reserved pasta cooking water; stir well.

Spread half of pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with spinach. Cover with remaining pasta mixture. Lightly spray piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses in small bowl; sprinkle cheese mixture on top of pasta. Cover ziti with foil, greased side down. Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through. Remove foil and bake, uncovered, for an additional 5-10 minutes or until sheese is just starting to brown.

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