VERIFIED BY Taste of Home Test Kitchen
- 1 large pie pumpkin (5 to 6 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces uncooked cavatappi or fusilli pasta (about 3 cups)
- 1/2 pound bulk Johnsonville® Ground Mild or Hot Italian sausage
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 6 slices process American cheese (about 4 ounces), quartered
- 3/4 cup shredded Manchego cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped roasted sweet red pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°. Wash pumpkin. Cut a 5-in. circle around stem; remove top and set aside. Remove strings and seeds from pumpkin; discard seeds or save for roasting.
- Sprinkle inside of pumpkin with salt and pepper; replace top. Place on a wire rack in a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until tender. Remove top; let pumpkin stand on wire rack until ready to serve.
- In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat 4-6 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up sausage into crumbles; drain.
- Drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup pasta water. In same saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in cream and stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheeses until blended.
- Add spinach, roasted pepper, pasta and sausage mixture; toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water to moisten if desired. Spoon into pumpkin; serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.
Originally published as Sausage Mac & Cheese in a Pumpkin in Simple & Delicious October/November 2015