There is no ingredient that screams “FALL” to me more than butternut squash. It is one of my favorite ingredients of the season and I use it to make soup, stews, salads, lasagna and now butternut squash stuffed shells.
Butternut squash is such a great ingredient because it is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin E. The riper the squash the more orange the flesh will be.
If you are looking for a fall twist on your classic stuffed shells recipe than look no further!
I love this recipe because it makes enough to serve 8-10 people or you can freeze the leftovers to have at another time if you are serving less people. I freeze mine about 6 shells per freezer bag so I don’t have to defrost them all at once. You can also assemble the dish ahead of time and bake later which is always a plus! This is one of those dishes that I find the leftovers to just get more delicious as all of the flavors meld together.
If you wanted to add meat to this dish sausage would make a great addition because it pairs so well with the squash. I would saute it right along with the shallot and before adding the blended butternut squash.
- [b]FOR THE SAUCE [/b]
- 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped into cubes
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small shallots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, [i]optional[/i][br][br][b]FOR THE FILLING[/b]
- 1lb box of jumbo pasta shells
- 10oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
- 15oz fat free ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- Salt and reshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese [i](plus more for topping)[/i]
- 2 tablespoons of parsley, chopped or dried
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft, approx. 15 minutes.
- Remove squash with a slotted spoon into a blender, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside.
- Blend squash until smooth adding 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid to thin out as needed.
- Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, approx. 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
- Add pureed butternut squash. Season with with salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a little more of the reserved water to thin out to your liking.
- Stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese and nutmeg (optonal) and keep warm over a low heat.[br][br] Preheat oven to 350°F.[br][br]
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the shells for 3 minutes shorter than the package directions. They will finish cooking in the oven.[br][br][i]While the pasta cooks…[/i][br][br]
- Squeeze the defrosted spinach in a clean kitchen towel to drain out any excess water.
- Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Drain the shells and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking any further.
- Ladle 1/2 cup butternut sauce sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.
- Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish. Top with the remaining butternut squash sauce.
- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top.
- Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts and everything is hot and bubbly.
- Top with parsley and serve.
What is your favorite way to enjoy butternut squash? Leave your answer in the comments!