Pumpkin Baked Ziti

November 11, 2010

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“Robin: How can a pumpkin costume be sexy? Ted: It was carved in strategic places.” – How I Met Your Mother.

Pumpkin recipe #2 and much more to come. If you read my previous post on pumpkin cupcakes and saw my rant on the lack of pumpkins in Austin…  well thank you Whole Foods! They still have a truckload in the front of the store at the downtown location. Literally a load of pumpkins in a truck. They have ones weighing from 50 lbs to ones that weigh only 1 lb and come in all sorts and sizes that I’ve never seen before. For this recipe I wanted one serving size per person so I chose ones that weighed around 1 lb each.

This recipe features Johnsonville sausage links. I used hot Italian sausage, which complements the natural sweetness of the pumpkin and really gives a kick to the baked ziti. You can cook the sausage on a skillet but I find that roasting them in the oven really brings out the flavor. I like using Johnsonville sausages and ground beef because it comes a such a big array of flavors that taste great.
The recipe below is mine. For more recipes on Johnsonville sausages go here.
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Pumpkin Baked Ziti.

1/2 pound Johnsonville sausage
6 small pumpkins
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 pound ziti pasta, cooked
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tbsp pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place sausages onto baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until browned. Allow to cool and then chop into bite size pieces.
  • Cut off tops of the pumpkins save for later. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. (You can save these for later and make roasted pepitas). Place pumpkins on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Meanwhile add onion, garlic, and oil to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until soft; about 3 minutes. Stir in pumpkin puree, chicken stock and oregano. Mix together and add salt. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cream and sausage. Simmer until the sauce comes together and is thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Spread the first layer of sauce mixture into the baked pumpkins.
  • Then put a second layer of cooked ziti pasta.
  • Add 4 to 5 tablespoons of ricotta and spread it onto the ziti pasta. (I find that it’s easier to spread the ricotta when it’s warm).
  • Repeat with another layer of sauce mixture, cooked ziti pasta and ricotta cheese.
  • Finish with a sprinkle Parmesan and mozzarella cheese and bake for 35 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
Baking the ziti inside of a pumpkin really gives that extra boost of pumpkin that you can taste even in the ziti pasta and you get a little of smokiness from Johnsonville Sausages. The hot Italian sausages give a kick in contrast with the sweetness of the pumpkin. If you don’t like hot Italian sausage links, you can substitute for hot ground Italian sausage. The pumpkin also serves as an edible bowl. Just make sure that the pumpkin meat is cooked thoroughly. 
Sweet, savory and smoky.


Jane Ko is the Austin blogger behind A Taste of Koko, Austin's top food and travel blog featuring the hottest restaurants and weekend getaways. Jane has been a speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW), Texas Conference for Women, BlogHer, and more on entrepreneurship and social media. She lives in Austin Texas with her dog and cat.


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