I made this last night after realizing the chicken I planned to bake was still frozen. I knew there was some cream in the fridge, large shrimp in the freezer, and pumpkin puree in the cabinet so surely I could find a recipe utilizing what was on hand. UREKA! I adapted Paula Deen's Pumpkin Baked Ziti recipe to accommodate the ingredients in my pantry.
The result was delicious and tasty but missing “something”. Next time I will add some cayenne, chili powder or paprika for a kick of flavor since I omitted the sausage and all the beautiful flavors it contains. I have to be careful in the heat department. The kids won’t eat it with too much heat but too little….
Well, it’s just bland as cardboard – or what I imagine cardboard would taste like if I actually tried to eat it.
The texture was creamy, herby and smooth. Not at all pumpkiny but next time I will use smaller shrimp or chop my shrimp into bite size chunks so the kids don't have to struggle so much with eating a huge shrimp covered in sauce and pasta. I ate two bowls, hubster ate three and the kids even ate it. It was a great end to Valentine’s Day. This recipe is a definite keeper.
Here is Paula Deen's Recipe courtesy of Food Network, my alterations are in red. Click here for her original recipe on Food Network.
- Butter, for greasing I sprayed Pam on my 9x13 casserole dish
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (1 pound turkey sausage, for Richard Simons' version) I sautéed 12 large black tiger shrimp in extra virgin olive oil for about 3 minutes on each side
- 3/4 cup chopped onion I used one palm full of minced onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic garlic powder was used here
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 (15-ounces) can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves I used 2 tablespoons of dried basil and 1 tsp thyme, paprika, sage, and rosemary each
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup heavy cream (omit ingredient for Richard Simons' version) I used one full cup because the sauce seemed too thick with just the pumpkin and chicken stock
- 1 pound ziti pasta, cooked (1 pound whole wheat ziti, for Richard Simmons' version) I used large egg noodles cooked 6 minutes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves I used dry parsley
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1/4 cup Parmesan, for Richard Simmons' version) Italian shredded cheese is what I had in the fridge
Cook sausage in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until fat is rendered about 8 minutes. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and set aside. Discard any fat from the skillet in excess of 2 tablespoons. Thaw shrimp in cool (not hot) water for about 15 – 20 minutes. Drain well and toss thawed shrimp in a couple of tablespoons of Lawry's Seasoned Salt. Sautee shrimp in 2 tbs of EVOO over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side (less if you use smaller shrimp). The shrimp is done when it turns pink and the tails start to hold their curl. At this point, you can either chop it into bite sized portions or leave it whole. Set aside.
Add onion, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and oil to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until soft; about 3 minutes. No need to soften the dried herbs, immediately add these ingredients to the pumpkin puree and chicken stock mixture. Stir in pumpkin puree, chicken stock and sage and other dry herbs. Mix together and add salt. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cream and sausage shrimp if you chopped it. Simmer until the sauce comes together and is thickened slightly.
Add cooked pasta and parsley to the skillet and gently toss all the ingredients together to coat. Divide the rigatoni mixture between the 8 prepared ramekins. Place mixed pasta and sauce in casserole dish. Layer the cooked shrimp on top of the mixture. Sprinkle the tops of each ramekin with Parmesan cheese and bake for 35 minutes until the topping is golden brown. We couldn't wait till it was golden brown and dove in as soon as it was melted. It was still good.
Tomorrow we’re having Faux Fried Chicken. If it turns out well, I’ll share it with you next Monday. Till then, what are you eating???
Jenn also blogs about food, crafts, and other family friendly activities at Frugal Front Porch.