No offense to vegetarians, but for me, one of the tell-tale signs that I'm eating something extraordinarily delicious is if I don't even realize it contains not an ounce of meat. This creamy, cheesy, absolutely amazing baked pumpkin fettuccine alfredo, courtesy of How Sweet It Is, is the perfect meal to try as we -- believe it or not -- wind down from pumpkin season and shift into gingerbread, eggnog, and all-things peppermint season. 

As a woman from an Italian background, I'm ashamed to admit this, but I usually find pasta dishes rather boring. So I welcome the addition of unique ingredients that can shake things up a bit, and believe me, most Italians would be shocked -- shocked -- to find warm, spicy pumpkin tones in their beloved, traditional fettuccine alfredo dish. 

But it totally works.

Ingredients:

1 pound whole wheat/whole grain fettuccine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups low-fat milk
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoons freshly chopped sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Freshly grated fontina cheese for topping
Fine breadcrumbs for sprinkling

Fried sage
10-15 fresh sage leaves
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil water and prepare pasta according to directions, shaving 1-2 minutes off of cooking time.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add butter. Once sizzling, whisk in flour and stir to create a roux, until bubbly and golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add in milk, stirring constantly and increasing heat a little bit until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5-6 minutes. Add in mascarpone, parmesan, pumpkin, sage, salt, pepper, and pumpkin pie spice, mixing well until smooth and combined and thickened into a sauce.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and add pasta to the dish. Pour sauce over top and toss well with kitchen tongs to coat. Add some grated fontina on top and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly and slightly golden.

While pasta is baking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Once hot, add sage leaves 4-5 at a time and fry for about 30 seconds. Remove and place on a paper towel.

Serve pasta immediately and top with sage leaves.

 

Image via How Sweet It Is