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Pumpkin-Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta Bake

by Aggies Kitchen on December 3, 2013

This post is sponsored by McCormick.
Pumpkin-Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta Bake | Aggie's Kitchen

Growing up, my family’s version of “macaroni and cheese” was quite different than the norm. I did not realize this until I was much older. Our go-to cheesy pasta dish always consisted of macaroni with just enough ricotta and lots of Parmesan cheese and I absolutely loved it. Simple Italian comfort food at its best. (Though it wasn’t too long before we discovered and began to love the stuff that came in the “blue box”. ) :)

Ricotta was almost always guaranteed to be found in my family’s fridge growing up. We added it to pasta dishes, and even had it as a snack in a small bowl with a little sprinkle of sugar on top. When I buy it now it’s usually to when I’m making baked ziti or lasagna and I often wonder why I don’t pick it up more often to enjoy in other recipes – like this one I created for the McCormick’s Go4Gourmet Challenge.

Pumpkin-Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta Bake | Aggie's Kitchen

The Go4Gourmet Challenge challenges you to work with and create your very own recipe using 4 pre-selected seasonal ingredients along with whatever else plays to your tastebuds. I’m always faced with ingredient challenges like this in my very own kitchen when I play the “use it up” game – which happens pretty often – so this was right up my alley. My round of the Go4Gourmet Challenge was to create a recipe using the ingredients pumpkin, cinnamon, Mediterranean Sea Salt and Marcona almonds. I immediately knew I wanted to create a savory pasta dish of some kind and my childhood ricotta pasta dish came to mind and tied it all together.

Pumpkin-Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta Bake | Aggie's Kitchen

I incorporated the pumpkin and spices into a creamy ricotta and Parmesan cheese mixture to add to whole grain pasta, topping it with a crunchy Marcona almond, panko and Parmesan crumble. I absolutely loved the crunchy bits of almonds in the topping! And of course we already know freshly grated Parmesan makes everything better…

Pumpkin-Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta Bake | Aggie's Kitchen

This Pumpkin-Ricotta Pasta Bake is really nothing like my childhood “mac ‘n cheese”, nor is it even close to my kids’ favorite version of baked macaroni and cheese – my daughter made sure to let me know that. Instead, this pasta is a wonderfully flavorful and comforting seasonal dish that I could not stop myself from eating after it came out of the oven.  It’s unique, in a good way, and if you are a fan of savory pumpkin dishes like I am then I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

If you were asked to come up with a recipe using pumpkin, sea salt, cinnamon and Marcona almonds, what you make? Better yet, cook up your idea and submit it the Go4Gourmet Challenge here for a chance to win some an amazing assortment of spices and ingredients (each round) as well as a Grand Prize of a Gourmet pantry refresh worth $1000! Good luck and happy cooking!

Pumpkin-Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta Bake | Aggie's Kitchen

Pumpkin-Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta Bake

A seasonal and savory pumpkin baked pasta dish perfect for any dinner table. This recipe was created for the McCormick Gourmet Challenge.

Ingredients

  • 13 oz whole wheat rotini (or pasta of choice)
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Roasted or Saigon Cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon McCormick Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt
  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • For the Topping:
  • 1/4 cup Marcona almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium sized baking dish (I used 6 x 8) with butter, set aside.
  2. Prepare your pasta according to directions, drain.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, ricotta, Parmesan, cinnamon, Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt, ground pepper and chicken broth. Taste for seasoning and add additional sea salt (regular, non spiced) as needed.
  4. Add pasta to pumpkin-ricotta mixture and gently combine. Pour into buttered baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl, combine chopped Marcona almonds, panko, Parmesan cheese, Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt and butter until crumbly (I use my fingers to combine). Sprinkle topping over pasta in baking dish.
  6. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve immediately.
http://aggieskitchen.com/2013/12/03/pumpkin-ricotta-whole-wheat-pasta-bake/

(Discosure: I received product and compensation for creating a recipe for McCormick’s Go4Gourmet program. All opinions are 100% my own.)

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

JulieD December 3, 2013 at 9:03 am

Love this so much, Aggie!!!

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Aggies Kitchen December 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Thanks so much Julie! xo

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Tina Muir December 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

MMMMMMMM! This would be so perfect to enjoy after a chilly winters run. I am all out of fresh pumpkin….but purchasing a can would not be so bad to enjoy one more pumpkin dinner :) Thanks for sharing!

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Aggies Kitchen December 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I had a fresh pumpkin soup for the first time last month and oh my it was amazing, so much better than canned – though canned definitely comes in handy :)

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Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) December 3, 2013 at 9:08 am

Yum! I still haven’t gotten over pumpkin just yet–especially in savory applications. I haven’t made mac and cheese with ricotta yet (just with bechamel), but I definitely have to try this dish!

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Aggies Kitchen December 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I could seriously eat pumpkin all year long! I love bechamel – I bet it would be awesome with pumpkin in a pasta dish!

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Liz @ The Lemon Bowl December 3, 2013 at 9:09 am

I am loving all of these warm, fall flavors!! Perfect for the 30 degree weather we are having right now!

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Aggies Kitchen December 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I wish I could bring you some!

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Erica December 3, 2013 at 9:51 am

What an amazing combination of flavors! Pumpkin does great things to both sweet and savory dishes. winner!

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Aggies Kitchen December 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I know, I love pumpkin in both sweet and savory…and all year long :) Thanks girl!

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Samantha @FerraroKitchen December 3, 2013 at 11:13 am

Bring on the comfort food!! Love ricotta _ pumpkin..great combo! Its finally below 70 here in Cali haha

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Aggies Kitchen December 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Ha! I can so relate! We went under 70s last week…but are back in the 80s this week :)

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Meagan @ A Zesty Bite December 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

Oh man I am loving all of these flavors in this pasta dish.

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Aggies Kitchen December 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Thanks Meagan!

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Valerie | From Valerie's Kitchen December 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm

This looks absolutely fabulous, Aggie. I love the simplicity and the fall twist. Just pure comfort!

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katrinadingle@hotmail.com December 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Pasta bakes are my FAV quick meal!! This is definitely hopping on my list for next week :)

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Gaby December 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm

This is so creative and pasta dishes are the best comfort food!

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Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective December 3, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Ooooh, this sounds delicious, Aggie! So simple, yet comforting and cozy! Thanks for sharing! :)

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Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living December 6, 2013 at 8:21 am

Love this untraditional pasta bake Aggie – all the spices + pumpkin in this add up to something truly special. I can just smell this through my computer screen!

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Cookin Canuck December 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

It sounds as though your childhood mac ‘n cheese was far better than the norm! And I love the idea of this pumpkin pasta bake…especially with the whole wheat pasta.

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Nutmeg Nanny December 8, 2013 at 10:37 am

Pasta bakes are my husbands favorite! I am so excited to give this a recipe a try, I am positive it will be a hit :)

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Whitney @ The Newlywed Chefs December 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I tend to put the pumpkin away in December, but I need to bust it out again to make this delicious recipe!

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Kim Beaulieu December 10, 2013 at 6:32 am

I just want to sink my teeth into this Aggie. It looks amazing. I love pasta, can never get enough of it.

Reply

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