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Posted on Oct 9, 2014 |

Rita’s Recipe: Baked Penne with Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage

Rita’s Recipe: Baked Penne with Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage

Gourds, relatives of the pumpkin, are found in the Bible. This pasta dish uses canned pumpkin, so you can make it any time of year.

Gourds, relatives of the pumpkin, are found in the Bible. This pasta dish uses canned pumpkin, so you can make it any time of year.

Gourds and pumpkins

Gourds are mentioned in the Bible in several places.

Lots of different types of wild gourds abounded in the Mediterranean region. Some were edible, some were not.


In 2 Kings 4:39, when Elisha had his people around him, one of his servants put a gourd into a pot of stew.


In Jonah 4:6-10, the gourd is identified as the plant under which Jonah found shade. Biblical scholars believe that this gourd may have been a pumpkin or squash.


Pumpkins, gourds and squash are related. All belong to the squash family and are distant relatives of two other Bible plants: cucumbers and melons. Now gourds are usually used for decoration, just like they may have been used in the Temple during Bible times.


Winter Squash and pumpkins are in season right now. We just harvested both from our vegetable garden.


What’s the difference between pumpkin pie filling in the can and pumpkin puree? Filling is sweetened and seasoned, pumpkin puree is pure pumpkin. It’s a powerhouse of nutrition. It’s good for the eyes, it can help prevent heart disease and cancer and boosts the immune system. The beta carotene is what gives it the orange color.

Baked Penne with Pumpkin, Sausage and Sage


Now I’m on a pasta kick! Adapted from friend and chef extraordinaire, Deb Goulding. Deb was a guest on my cable show and prepared this dish. Recipe divides in half easily and uses canned pumpkin, which is available all year.

  • 12 ozs to 1 pound  penne, ziti or other short pasta, cooked and kept warm
  • 1 pound or so Italian sausage, mild or hot – I like hot
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups or so diced onion – l large onion
  • 2-3 teaspoons minced garlic – 3 nice cloves
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree – 2 cups  (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • Several fresh sage leaves, minced or dried sage leaves to taste – start with 1/2 teaspoon or so
  • 2/3  cup whipping cream, unwhipped or half & half
  • 1  cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a casserole dish or individual ramekins (four 8 oz. ramekins). Cook sausage and remove from skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender, a few minutes. Stir in pumpkin, broth and sage. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in cream and sausage and cook until it thickens just a bit. Add cooked pasta and mix well. Pour into casserole or ramekins. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 20 minutes or so just until topping is golden.

Tip from Rita’s kitchen: Since the pasta dish is already cooked, you can simply run it under the broiler to brown.  Or just eat as is.


Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist,  the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.

Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!

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