Italian Sausage and Pumpkin Hotdish (That’s Minnesotan for ‘Casserole’)

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Italian Sausage and Wild Rice Casserole

Born and raised in Minnesota I grew up on Hotdishes of every kind -even on a stick- that were filled with cream of mushroom soup and wild rice grown in my neck of the woods right around Mille Lacs Lake. But for those of you uninitiated you may be asking what the heck is a Hotdish? Well, a Hotdish is a famous Minnesotan tradition, a one dish meal combining a meat (commonly hamburger) and/or veggie (commonly green beans), accompanied by wild rice, and cream of something soup, that’s baked to perfection -you may call it a casserole, but in Minnesota it is known only as a Hotdish!

Oh, Hotdish, what a wonderful comfort food you are.
You fill our mouths with savory goodness, and our stomachs with warming kindness.
Oh yes, Minnesota is the home of the delicious, indestructible, shapeless, hotdish. :P

Okay, Okay, I’m done being silly. In reality a hotdish is quite comforting and warming, especially on a cold winter night. It can also be healthy, and very affordable, making it a perfect way to feed the whole family for dinner. I think my other favorite aspect is that there really aren’t any rules in making a hotdish, so you can throw together whatever you have on hand.

For this dish, I had bought Italian sausage this week for some pizza, I still had a great deal left over, and thus Italian Sausage, Apple, and Wild Rice Hotdish was born. Also, around the holidays it’s so much fun to use what’s in season, like pumpkins! This little pie pumpkin was the perfect vessel for the hotdish to be baked and served in, and it tasted perfect with the dish too! So when you’re next trying to make a meal for the family and aren’t sure what to make, throw together a few ingredients and pop it in the oven!

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Italian Sausage and Pumpkin Hotdish
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Cook time

Total time


Heat up your house and family with this hotdish recipe next time you’d like a single dish to be the entire meal. Italian Sausage pairs perfectly with sweet granny smith apples, creamy soup, and wild rice, perfect for all ages.
Recipe type: Casserole, Dinner
Cuisine: Minnesotan
Serves/Makes: 4-6

  • 1 Lbs Hot Italian Sausage (6 links) (or substitute mild sausage, or hamburger)
  • 4 Cups Cooked Wild Rice (or blend 2 cups Wild, 2 cups Brown)
  • 2 Medium Granny Smith Apples
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

  1. Cook your rice ahead of time, following instructions on the package to yield at least 4 servings, or up to 4 cups. I used half wild rice, and half brown rice to lighten things up a bit, because wild rice is really hearty. (note you may need to add more water during cooking than normal, wild rice has a tendency to soak it up too quickly.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400.
  3. Next cook your Italian sausage out of the casings in a large skillet, and crumble as you cook.
  4. While your sausage is cooking, if you’re using a pumpkin as a baking dish, cut a large opening at the top and clean and rinse out your pumpkin, For this recipe you’ll need at least 2 large pie pumpkins (6″ in diameter).
  5. Dice your apples, then combine all of the ingredients (minus pumpkin) and salt and pepper to taste in the skillet or large mixing bowl.
  6. Place your hotdish into your cleaned pumpkins, or a 9×13″ casserole dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbly.

I also have to give an update on my healthy living journal. You can lighten this recipe up all the way with using all or mostly chicken broth, and I used Italian Chicken Sausage! By changing what I eat, and lightening the way I cook, I’ve lost 15lbs in the last few months! I still have a long way to go. And for me it’s about being healthier, not just shedding this extra weight. But I know I’ll continue to be better, and slowly dig myself out of this hole.

What ways have you been healthier during theĀ beginningĀ of this normally unhealthy season? How have you lightened up meals for your family lately?

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  1. This soup sounds delicious and is just adorable in the tiny pumpkin!

  2. Congrats on your weight loss! You are doing t the right way too! Nothing drastic and changing your eating habits. That is the “recipe” for success! Yummy recipe and I always love the idea of using the pumpkins as a dish – so seasonally festive!

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