Pumpkin Baked Penne with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping

by Joanna

I love new recipes.  Especially ones that taste good!  This recipe was a little different for me because it involved some ingredients that I don’t normally cook with.  But I accepted the challenge and I’m glad I did. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve cooked with tofu, and both times, it turned out well!  The first time I fried it to add it to fried rice to replace and egg.  For this recipe, I blended it with some other ingredients to replace ricotta cheese.  Don’t be intimidated by tofu.  And don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!  Tofu is condensed soy milk that provides high protein and low calories. Tofu is also low in carbs, cholesterol and is a great source of calcium!  It’s definitely worth a try. 

Pumpkin Baked Penne with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping 
Serves 6-8

  • 3/4 pound uncooked ziti or penne pasta
  • 3 onions, sliced very thinly
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 recipe Cashew Ricotta (see below)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • White pepper and cayenne (the recipe didn't say how much; I used a dash of each)
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • Bread crumbs

Cashew Ricotta

  • 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked in water for at least an hour
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In a food processor, blend together the drained cashews, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic until a thick, creamy paste forms. Add the crumbled tofu in batches and process until the mixture is thick and well blended. Blend in the basil and salt.


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a 9X11 baking pan. 
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  3. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions in oil until onion is very brown and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Place Cashew Ricotta in a large bowl and fold in the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, nutmeg, white pepper, cayenne, veg broth, and mix. Add the cooked pasta and caramelized onions, stirring to coat the pasta. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press lightly with a rubber spatula to level it. Sprinkle a small, even layer over the pasta.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


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