Perfect for fall and winter, this vegetarian and vegan-friendly pumpkin pasta bake is a sure crowd-pleaser. It's an easy-to-make casserole dish with just 10 tasty ingredients.
You'll get an easy, comforting, and family-friendly dinner with a creamy pumpkin sauce, tender pumpkin pieces, and a delicious mix of cheeses.
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This pumpkin pasta bake is an excellent main dish when you feel like something cozy, comforting, and easy to make.
We toss the pasta in a terrific roasted pumpkin sauce that you can make in a food processor and add roasted pumpkin pieces. The different textures and rich pumpkin flavor make this dish a winner!
It's perfect for the whole family and a great and subtle way to add more veggies to your plate.
For this recipe, we use pumpkin, but you can use any winter squash, such as butternut squash, delicata squash, kabocha squash, and more.
The recipe is vegetarian, and we combine mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, and parmesan cheese to make this dish tasty, creamy, and melty.
You can make this recipe with any pumpkin and winter squash, such as delicata squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, hubbard squash, spaghetti squash, turban squash, green or red kabocha squash, sweet dumpling squash, red Kuri squash, buttercup squash, and carnival squash.
We don't use pumpkin puree in this recipe. Instead, we make the sauce with roasted pumpkin.
To speed things up, we recommend purchasing peeled and diced pumpkins.
You can use any type of short pasta such as ziti, maccheroni, rigatoni, penne, fusilli, rotini, conchiglie, and more.
We haven't tried this with gluten-free pasta.
Cheese or dairy-free cheese
For pasta bakes, we use diced fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and grated parmesan cheese. It's a beautiful combination that most people love.
To make this recipe vegan, you can substitute store-bought or homemade vegan ricotta for whole milk ricotta, store-bought or homemade vegan parmesan for the parmesan, and store-bought vegan shredded cheese for the mozzarella.
You can use fresh garlic cloves or garlic powder.
We recommend extra virgin olive oil because it has a fruitier and more pleasant flavor.
Sage is delicious with pumpkin and winter squashes, so we recommend using it. Of course, fresh sage is best, but the recipe works well with dried sage.
If you can't find sage, substitute another sturdy herb such as thyme or rosemary.
Vegetable broth or reserved pasta water
Vegetable broth adds some extra flavor, but reserved pasta water works well too. Pick your favorite.
Salt and pepper
We use sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Red pepper flakes: ¼ to ½ teaspoon for heat.
- Grated nutmeg: ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon for a cozy wintery aroma.
- Baby spinach: 2 to 3 handfuls mixed in with the sauce.
- Walnuts: about ½ cup, crushed, toasted, and sprinkled on top. They add crunch and a nutty flavor.
Roast the pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel and chop the pumpkin into 1-Inch dice. Add it to the baking tray, and toss with salt, black pepper, crushed garlic with the peel on, and sage leaves.
Arrange on a single layer and bake for 20 minutes or until fork-tender.
Cook the pasta
Cook the pasta very al dente, as per package instructions minus 2 minutes, in a large pot of salted water, then drain it and transfer it into a large mixing bowl.
Tip: once in the bowl, stir the pasta occasionally so that it doesn't stick together. We don't think it's necessary to add oil to it, but you can do so if you like.
Make the sauce
Transfer half of the roasted pumpkin, garlic (without peel), and sage to a food processor or blender.
Add half of the ricotta cheese, half of the parmesan, olive oil, and ½ cup of water or vegetable broth, salt, and black pepper.
Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
Build the casserole
Cover the bottom of your baking dish with ¼ cup of pumpkin pasta sauce.
Mix the remaining pumpkin sauce with the pasta. Add some reserved pasta water or vegetable broth if the sauce is too thick.
Transfer the pasta onto the baking dish and drizzle with ¼ cup of vegetable broth or reserved pasta water.
Add the remaining pumpkin pieces on top of the pasta.
Add small dollops of ricotta, then sprinkle with mozzarella and grated parmesan cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350°C or 180°C for about 20 minutes until the cheese melts.
Take out of the oven, let cool down for 5 minutes before serving.
Pumpkin pasta bake is a fulfilling recipe that goes well with a salad to add a crunchy and fresh side dish to your dinner:
- Chickpea salad: ready in 15 minutes, with a tangy, creamy mustard dressing.
- Avocado salad with tomato and red onion, green and creamy side salad.
- Easy side salad: with few ingredients, this salad takes just 5 minutes to toss together.
- Shaved Brussels sprout salad with cranberries and walnuts, a great side salad for autumn and winter!
- Kale salad with pumpkin: a great pairing with pumpkin pasta bake if you have leftover roasted pumpkin!
Got an air fryer? Make a quick and easy vegetable side dish with these colorful recipes:
How to cook pasta?
You'll need about 1 gallon (16 cups or 4 liters) of water and 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of salt to cook 1 pound (450 grams) of pasta to feed about 5 people.
Yes, you should pre-cook the pasta very al dente - 2 minutes less than instructed on the package - and in plenty of salted boiling water.
Diced pumpkin takes about 20 to 30 minutes to bake and get fork-tender fully. The temperature of the oven should be between 400°F or 200°C and 450°F or 230°C.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make Ahead: pumpkin pasta bake is an excellent recipe to make ahead. Build the pasta in the casserole up to 2 days ahead of time, cover it in plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge or for up to 3 months in the freezer. Then, on the day, thaw and bake it as instructed.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days, wrapped in plastic or an airtight container. You can keep the pasta baked in the fridge before baking for up to 2 days.
Freezer: you can freeze pumpkin pasta before baking it for up to 3 months. Wrap the casserole in 3 layers of plastic wrap and freeze. Make sure your casserole is freezer friendly.
Thaw: thaw frozen pasta bake in the fridge, overnight, or during the day, then bake in a preheated oven as instructed.
Reheat: before reheating, drizzle a couple of tablespoons of water on each portion of pasta bake, then reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes. You can also reheat it in a preheated oven at 350°F or 180°C for 10-15 minutes.
More Pasta Dishes
If you love creamy pasta recipes, get new ideas from these easy and comforting meals:
- Artichoke pasta bake: a creamy Italian pasta favorite perfect as a make-ahead dinner
- Butternut squash pasta: ready in 30 minutes with a velvety, creamy butternut squash sauce
- Kabocha squash pasta: easy and creamy weekday pasta with a smooth and cheesy sauce
- Spinach pasta with ricotta: ready in 20 minutes and with easy-to-find ingredients
- Pasta e Fagioli: pasta with beans in a hearty stew and with fresh Italian herbs
- Pasta al Limone: super easy lemon pasta with ricotta; make it vegetarian or vegan!
- Hummus pasta: store-bought or homemade hummus and sautéed mushrooms in a pan; this is pasta comfort food!
More Sunday Dinner Ideas
Are you looking for a special plant-based meal to serve to guests and your family? Take a peek at these comforting and family-favorite meals:
- Vegetarian meatballs with crumbled tofu and fresh herbs in a rich marinara sauce
- Tofu Cacciatore: elegant and vegetarian dinner idea instead of chicken cacciatore
- Easy Italian bean stew with pinto beans, Italian herbs, and a rustic tomato sauce
- Pasta e Ceci pasta with chickpeas in a comforting Italian soup
- Eggplant Parmigiana: tender eggplant slices with tomato sauce, an Italian classic!
For many more dinner ideas, check out our mains category page.
Pumpkin Pasta Bake
- Food processor or blender
- Baking dish or casserole dish (we use a 13x9-inch or 33x22 cm but slightly smaller sizes work well too)
- 1 pound pasta any short type
- 1½ pounds pumpkin diced, sub with any winter squash
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided, 1 tablespoon for roasted pumpkin, 1 tablespoon for pumpkin sauce
- 3 cloves garlic crushed, with peel on
- 10 leaves sage
- 1½ teaspoons salt divided, 1 teaspoon for roasted pumpkin, ½ teaspoon for pumpkin sauce
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup ricotta or dairy-free ricotta, divided, ½ in sauce, ½ on pasta.
- 1 cup parmesan or dairy-free parmesan, divided, ½ in sauce and ½ on pasta.
- 1 cup mozzarella or dairy-free cheese, shredded or diced
- ¾ cup vegetable broth or reserved pasta water
ROAST THE PUMPKIN
- Preheat oven to 400°F or 200°C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.Peel and chop pumpkin into 1-Inch dice. Add to baking tray and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, crushed garlic with peel on, and sage leaves.Arrange on a single layer and bake for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
COOK THE PASTA
- Cook pasta as per package instructions minus 2 minutes in a large pot of salted boiling water, then drain it and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
MAKE PUMPKIN SAUCE
- To a food processor, add ½ of the roasted pumpkin dice, roasted garlic without peel, sage, ½ of the ricotta, ½ of the parmesan, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ½ cup vegetable broth.
- Blend until smooth, taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
BUILD THE PASTA BAKE
- Cover the bottom of your baking dish with ¼ cup of pumpkin sauce.
- Toss pasta with remaining pumpkin sauce until fully coated, then transfer it into baking dish.Drizzle with ¼ cup vegetable broth.
- Add remaining roasted pumpkin dice on top.
- Add small dollops of remaining ricotta.
- Cover with mozzarella and remaining parmesan.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°C or 180°C for about 20 minutes or until the cheese melts.
- Take out of the oven, let cool down for 5 minutes before serving.
- Pumpkin: sub any winter squash such as delicata squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, hubbard squash, spaghetti squash, turban squash, green or red kabocha squash, sweet dumpling squash, red Kuri squash, buttercup squash, and carnival squash.
- Ricotta: sub store-bought dairy-free ricotta or our homemade vegan ricotta.
- Parmesan: sub store-bought dairy-free parmesan or our homemade vegan parmesan.
- Mozzarella: sub store-bought dairy-free shredded cheese that melts.
- Fresh Sage: sub dried sage, thyme, or rosemary.
- Optional ingredients: you can add 3 handfuls of spinach mixed with the pasta before baking, grated nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and crushed walnuts on top.
- Cook the pasta very al dente so that when it bakes in the oven it won't overcook. 2 minutes less than instructed on package is enough.
- You'll need about 1 gallon (16 cups or 4 liters) of water and 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of salt to cook 1 pound (450 grams) of pasta.
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