So, you may notice that I use rigatoni a lot. This is for a couple of reasons – it is my favorite kind of pasta, and it is hand-friendly for teeny chef (who is not yet proficiently using tableware and relies on her little fingers to eat). With the turkey added this is really a hearty main course that doesn’t require a big side (I just served it with garlic toast).
Oh one other thing – PUMPKIN ALL THE THINGS!
Rigatoni Turkey and Pumpkin Pasta Bake
Serves 6 Ingredients
1lb. ground turkey
12 oz. rigatoni pasta
15 oz. ricotta cheese
15 oz. solid pack pumpkin
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. sage
¼ tsp. salt EACH for pumpkin mixture and sauce mixture
¼ tsp. pepper EACH for pumpkin mixture and sauce mixture
2 tbsp. butter
¼ cup whole wheat flour (I used white wheat)
2 cups whole milk
4 oz. (approximately 1 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook and crumble turkey in a skillet until done. In the meantime, mix the ricotta, pumpkin, egg, nutmeg, sage, ¼ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper in a bowl. Combine well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot and drain. In the meantime, remove the cooked turkey to a bowl, leaving any drippings in the skillet. Add the butter to the skillet over medium heat and whisk until melted, then add the flour and whisk until all the butter has been absorbed. Temporarily increase the heat to high and add the milk and whisk constantly. Once the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat down to medium/low and continue to whisk until it thickens. Add ¼ tsp. of salt, ¼ tsp. of pepper and half of the cheese and whisk until melted.
Add the turkey to the sauce mixture and stir. Return the pasta to the pot it was cooked in (no longer over heat) and add the meat sauce, combining well. To assemble the pasta bake, spread half of the rigatoni and meat sauce over the bottom a 9” x 13” baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Layer half of the pumpkin and ricotta mixture over the pasta, then repeat the layers, ending with the remaining pumpkin and ricotta. Sprinkle the remaining half of the mozzarella cheese over the top.
Bake 30 minutes, until pumpkin begins to brown slightly on top and the pasta bake is bubbly.