It’s so hard to find specialty kosher cheeses! I have to go into Brookline just to get parmesan. So when I saw this recipe for a baked pasta which only uses mozzarella, I got very excited.
I first made it exactly according to the instructions. The results was good, but not great. It was almost too cheesy, and we could barely taste the pumpkin, the only vegetable.
I’ve played around with it a lot and here are my tweaks:
- Add a bag of spinach. If you have time to de-stem, great. Now it’s a complete meal. I have also added Swiss chard, which is more work because I had to clean and cut it up first, but it tasted good. It held its shape a bit better than the spinach so it depends if you are looking for a bit of a crunch.
- Use 150% of the dried sage. This brings out the flavor of the pumpkin but it can be a bit much.
- If you have time, add sauteed mushrooms. Just be sure to drain all the liquid first.
- I’m not sure why this recipe calls for heavy cream. I use whatever milk I have on hand, usually 1%. Honestly, I might start omitting it.
- Substitute ricotta for ¾’s of the mozzarella. I still use 1 cup mozzarella on top, but only a ½ cup with 1 ½ cups ricotta in the dish itself. It doesn’t make a huge flavor difference, but the dish is a bit smoother and less stringy.
- I tried whole wheat penne and it was pretty good! As someone who generally hates whole wheat pasta, this was tolerable.
Note this doesn’t reheat well but you can stick it in the microwave for a quick lunch if you are really hungry.
I have provided my preferred recipe below.
- 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
- 1 bag spinach (de-stem if you have time)
- Sautéed mushrooms
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin purée
- ½ cup mozzarella plus 1 cup for the top
- 1 ½ cups ricotta
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 teaspoons dried sage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Boil the pasta and drain
- Dump spinach in baking casserole and pour hot cooked pasta over it. Mix to cook the spinach a bit.
- Add mushrooms, pumpkin, mozzarella, ricotta, milk, and spices. Stir until we’ll combined.
- Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Note you can prepare this in advance and keep it in the fridge for up to three days prior to baking.