Loaded with cheese, veggies, and a creamy pumpkin sauce, this easy no-boil pumpkin pasta bake deserves a spot of golden bubbly goodness at the dinner table any day of the week. It would also make a great vegetarian meal for meatless Monday.
I mean, who doesn’t love a good satisfying comforting pasta bake? The only thing I love better than a pasta bake is not having to faff around with cooking the pasta and basically being able to sling it in the oven and walk away.
I’ve used regular dried spaghetti (without egg) in this recipe because I’m a bit of a fiend, but you can use any type of pasta as long as it’s the regular dried no-egg cook-in-ten-minutes kind.
This dish takes just over an hour to make (most of that time spent in the oven) and is tasty enough to serve as a “special occasion” dish.
What to serve with pumpkin pasta bake
Like regular pasta bakes, this pumpkin pasta bake will really shine with some amazing homemade vegan garlic bread on the side.
Some other ideas include a simple green salad, some roasted vegetables, green bean casserole, buttered peas, or even a protein (a veggie burger for example) and some traditional Irish vegan stuffing (the sage and onion in it pair wonderfully with this dish).
Ingredients and substitutions
AIn this section we’ll have a quick look at what substitutions you can make if you find yourself short on ingredients.
Note that if I don’t suggest it here, then I don’t recommend substituting it, but you can always drop me a line in the comments section to ask if you have a substitution question not covered here.
The main ingredients needed to make this recipe are:
- Pumpkin (fresh, raw, and peeled)
- Dried packaged pasta
- Olive oil
- Dried sage
- Chilli flakes
- Garlic powder
- Crème fraiche
- Vegetable broth
- Grated mozzarella
- Italian hard cheese
- Dried rosemary
We¡ve already discussed how you can pretty much use any pasta you want as long as it’s the packaged kind that cooks in ten minutes, now let’s see what else can be changed, substituted or omitted.
Pumpkin: If you can’t get a hold of any fresh pumpkin, you can substitute the amount used (half of the total)in the sauce with the same amount of canned pumpkin puree (make sure it’s not pumpkin pie filling). The chopped pumpkin for topping the bake could be swapped out for squash, carrots, or even potato!
Olive oil: This adds quite a bit of flavor but if you really must you can swap it out for another oil which has a fairly plain flavour profile (e.g. NOT coconut oil, sesame oil or mustard oil).
Dried sage and rosemary: These can be swapped out for fresh herbs, following the ratio of one tablespoon fresh herbs to one teaspoon dried. Just make sure to chop up the fresh sage finely.
Chili flakes, garlic powder and nutmeg: These can all be omitted if you’re not a fan of these flavours. The chili flakes can be swapped out for tabasco or another vinegar-based hot sauce to taste. Technically you’re supposed to be able to substitue garlic powder with one raw clove crushed garlic for every 1/8th teaspoon of garlic powder used but I can tell you that it really doesn’t work and if you add 8 cloves of crushed garlic to this bake, you will get a VERY different result. If you really must, add 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic or just omit the powder.
Crème fraiche: Love this stuff but if you can’t get it swap it out for the same amount of sour cream, mascarpone, or full-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt if you’re really stuck.
Grated mozzarella: This can be swapped for any mild cheese which melts well and gets “stringy”, such as Edam or Gouda, or even fresh buffalo mozzarella torn into small pieces.
Italian hard cheese: Basically any parmesan-like or grana padano-like cheese can be used here. Check the back of the package for the vegetarian symbol if you are vegetarian like me, as real parmesan is made using animal rennet.
How to make it
In this section, I’ll quickly run through how to make this easy pumpkin pasta bake, as well as drop any hints or tips for shortcuts I use when making it. It’s a good idea to check in with the progress photos here as well if you’re at all unsure about anything, to make sure you’re on the right track.
Firstly, preheat the oven to 390F (200C) and chop up the peeled pumpkin into half an inch dice.
Take half of the chopped pumpkin and put in a microwave-safe bowl or tupperware container, cover, and microwave on full power for six minutes, stir, then another six minutes until fork-tender.
Add the pasta to a ceramic, pyrex or glass baking dish which is roughly 12 x 8 inches. A little bigger is fine but any smaller size won’t give you enough space.
Slosh two tbsp of oil over the pasta (spaghetti in my case) and use your hands to mix the pasta and coat the strands evenly with the oil.
Now take the microwaved pumpkin, and add into it the crème fraiche, vegetable broth, salt, and half the hard Italian cheese. Blend or process in a food processor.
If you have a stick blender I recommend using that to cut down on clean-up time and hassle.
Mix the herbs and spices into the sauce ( the garlic powder, nutmeg and half the chili flakes and sage) and pour the sauce over the pasta.
Tightly cover with aluminum foil and bake for half an hour. In the meantime, thinly slice the onions and add to the bowl with the chopped raw pumpkin.
Toss the sliced onion and chopped pumpkin with the remaining two tablespoons of oil, sage, chili flakes and the rosemary and put to one side.
Take the pumpkin pasta out of the oven, remove the foil and stir the pasta making sure to separate all the strands and check they’re coated evenly with sauce.
Add the pumpkin and onion in a single layer on top of the pasta and sauce, cover again with the aluminum foil, and return to the oven for another half an hour or until the pumpkin is tender.
Remove the aluminum foil and sprinkle the remaining Italian hard cheese on top, followed by a thick layer of the grated mozzarella.
Turn on the broil/grill function of the oven and broil the pumpkin pasta bake for between two-three minutes, or until the cheese has melted to your satisfaction.
Take out and let cool ten minutes, then slice and serve while still hot.
Storing and reheating
This recipe makes six large portions. I always recommend eating pasta bake on the first day because the pasta tends to keep absorbing the sauce, which changes the texture, and due to how firm pasta bakes are the sauce can’t really be “loosened” by adding additional liquid.
Having said that, this bake will keep in the fridge for up to four days and can be sprinkled with a little water, covered, and reheated on medium heat in the oven for up to 30 minutes, or even in the microwave in 3-minute increments.
I actually prefer to eat any leftovers cold on the second day, with a salad, but you do you.
This dish can actually be easily frozen as well. When taking the dish out of the oven at 30 minutes to add the pumpkin and onion, let cool instead of popping back in, cover and freeze.
You can then take out of the freezer and leave to defrost overnight in the fridge, pop back in the oven for 30-40 minutes (or until the pumpkin is tender), sprinkle the cheese over the top, and broil until melted.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.
Or take a picture and tag me on Instagram (@the_fiery_vegetarian), I love seeing all your creations!
- 42 ounces peeled pumpkin, divided
- 1 pound pasta
- 4 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 cup creme fraiche
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- Grated hard Italian cheese 3.5oz, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried sage, divided
- 1tsp chili flakes, divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 medium sweet onions
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 8oz grated mozzarella
- Chop the pumpkin into half-inch dice. Microwave half in a covered bowl for 12 minutes, stirring at the 6-minute mark.
- Preheat the oven to 390F and place the pasta in a 12x8 inch baking dish (not a metal pan). Pour two tablespoons of the olive oil over and massage into the pasta.
- Take the microwaved pumpkin and blend with the creme fraiche, vegetable stock, salt and half the hard Italian cheese.
- Mix in half the sage, half the chili flakes, all the garlic powder and nutmeg. Pour over the pasta and tightly cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 30 minutes. In the meantime thinly slice the onions and toss with the remaining chopped pumpkin, olive oil, sage, chili flakes and all the rosemary.
- Remove the pasta bake from the oven and using a fork, mix the parbaked pasta until all the strands are separated and covered with sauce. Top with the chopped pumpkin and onion, cover, and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
- Remove, check that the pumpkin is soft with a fork (if not return to the oven uncovered for ten-minute increments until cooked). Sprinkle over the remaining Italian hard cheese, and then the mozzarella.
- Broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted to your liking.
Italian hard cheese should be any vegetarian parmesan-like or grana padano-like cheese (unless you're not a vegetarian in which case you can use parmesan or grana padano)
Amount Per Serving Calories 619Total Fat 41gSaturated Fat 20gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 95mgSodium 1139mgCarbohydrates 46gFiber 5gSugar 12gProtein 20g