This easy pumpkin bolognese pasta sauce recipe is super healthy and bursting with cozy Fall flavors. Made with mushrooms and grass-fed ground beef, serve this delicious pumpkin pasta sauce over gluten-free penne for a nutritious dinner the whole family will love.
Happy Halloween, friends!!
I'm in utter disbelief that tomorrow is November. How did this happen? Where did Fall go? It's basically Thanksgiving, which means it's basically the Holidays, which means it's basically Winter.
And yet, somehow, it's still over 80 degrees here in Atlanta.
No matter, despite the scorching temps, I'm pretending it's Fall and wearing lots of flannel shirts and boots and scarves and eating all things pumpkin.
And this pumpkin bolognese pasta sauce!!
Oh. Em. Gee, you guys. This pumpkin pasta is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. Seriously.
I actually made it for the first time last Fall, and it was so good that I made several huge batches and froze the pumpkin bolognese sauce in mason jars.
Fast forward 12 months and we've just moved into our new loft, nary a homecooked meal in sight.
UNTIL I remembered I had this pumpkin pasta sauce frozen. So I defrosted it one night and served it over some gluten-free penne and OH. MY. GOD.
Matt and I both couldn't stop raving about how good it was–yes, I rave over my own cooking. If you'd just taste this bolognese, you'd understand.
See, people always think that healthy and delicious are mutually exclusive. Like, if I'm eating something that's super good for me, it must be super bland.
And to those people, I say… you must learn how to embrace spices and herbs and the abundance of flavor found in produce.
Because you know what's bland–Bread. Dough. Plain White Pasta.
What makes these things delicious isn't the refined, white, flavorless flour that makes up the base…it's the seasonings and fruits and vegetables that are served with it. Say it with me now:
The ingredients with the most nutrients are those that have the most flavor.
Gluten-Free Pasta Alternatives
Not only that, but people also often mistakenly believe that if you're eating healthy, you must be missing out on your favorite foods.
I follow the anti-inflammatory diet…BUT, that doesn't mean I can't have those classic comfort foods.
It just means I have to make some smart swaps.
So instead of white pasta noodles laden with gluten and refined flour, I opt for gluten-free noodles made from nutritious whole grains and vegetables, like quinoa, corn, chickpeas or lentils.
Taste-wise, I would never be able to tell the difference between regular pasta and these gluten-free varieties, but they are SO MUCH BETTER FOR YOU!
You can save a lot of money by buying these gluten-free pastas at Thrive Market, too.
Plus, you'll get an extra $25 off your first purchase, free shipping (on orders over $49+) and a FREE gift if you use that link 🙂
Okay, now back to the pumpkin bolognese. Let me break it down for you:
#1: The pumpkin pasta sauce is delicious and just bursting with nutrients. It gets a cozy Fall kick from the pumpkin puree that's blended into the sauce.
Not only does a cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contain more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, but pumpkins are a great source of fiber, which can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories (source). SCORE!
#2: I also sneak more nutrition into the bolognese sauce by adding finely chopped mushrooms.
This is my favorite healthy eating hack to boosting the nutrient factor of any ground meat dishes without altering the flavor or texture. Finely chopped mushrooms look and taste almost identical to ground beef, when blended together.
PLUS mushrooms improve cholesterol levels, help prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer, and diabetes, aid in weight loss, AND they increase the strength of your immune system (source).
Again, eating healthy isn't always about getting rid of the bad, depriving yourself of life's delicious pleasures. No, for me, eating healthy is about getting more of the good.
That's why whenever I'm cooking something, I'm always thinking about ways I could add more nutrients to the meal. Mushrooms are such an awesome, easy way to do that!
#3: Which brings me to the ground beef. You could totally make this pumpkin pasta sauce vegetarian by just using mushrooms, but the ground beef just pushes the flavor factor over the top, and adds tons of delicious protein and healthy fat.
That being said, PLEASE make sure you're using grass-fed, organic ground beef. Not only do organic meats contain no antibiotics or added hormones, but the animals themselves were not fed toxic pesticides and GMOs, meaning you're not then also eating toxic pesticides and GMOs.
It's like Michael Pollan says, “you are what what you eat eats”.
If that's not enough to convince you, consider this: compared with grain-fed meat from factory farms, grass-fed beef contains more “good” fats, and fewer “bad” fats. It is richer in antioxidants (think vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C), and grass-fed beef contains less calories overall (source).
So there you go– a delicious, comfort food meal that only feels indulgent, but is actually insanely healthy and super good for you. This is the Root + Revel way!
If you try this recipe, let us know what you think! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag the recipe #rootandrevel/@rootandrevel on Instagram.
Pumpkin Mushroom Bolognese
- 1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon organic red pepper flakes
- 1 pound organic, grass-fed ground beef
- 1 can organic diced tomatoes (no-salt-added is best)
- 1 can organic pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon organic thyme
- 1 tablespoon organic oregano
- salt and pepper , to taste
- 1 pound gluten-free pasta
- Optional garnishes: chopped sage and grated parmesan cheese
- In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the ground beef and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon; it should take about 5 minutes to cook through.
- Add tomatoes, pumpkin, thyme and oregano and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta of choice (I recommend gluten-free penne or spiralized veggies) according to package directions. Drain and add to your sauce. Toss to combine.
- Garnish with freshly chopped sage and grated parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy!
**Nutrition panel does not include pasta, as that will vary by brand. Salt and pepper is also not included, as it's added to taste.
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser