This weekend, I drove from spring to winter. It was very unusual. One moment, I was walking Stella in 60 degree weather, and three hours later, Stella was playing in falling snow. This strange weather pattern means only one thing: time is running out to enjoy fresh squash. So make these stuffed shells soon! I made them using a butternut squash, but if you do miss the end of winter, they would also be great with canned pumpkin purée. These shells are stuffed with a cheesy squash mixture, dressed with a nutmeg and parmesan cream sauce, sprinkled with mozzarella, and baked until they are tender, slightly crisp, and very delicious. They are fun to make but even more fun to eat!
Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in approximately 30 jumbo pasta shells, and boil them for about 12 minutes or until they are cooked slightly less than al dente. When the shells are done, drain them, and immediately run them under cold water to stop them from cooking further.
While the shells cook, start on the filling. Steam approximately 20 ounces of butternut squash until it is fork tender. Mash the squash with a fork, and put it in the refrigerator to cool. In a medium bowl, mix together 1.5 cups of ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, 1 minced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 tablespoon of chopped sage.
When the butternut squash has mostly cooled, stir it in with the ricotta mixture. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Then, whisk in 1 egg.
Preheat your oven to 350º F. Mist a large baking dish with cooking spray. Then, use a spoon to stuff the pasta shells with the butternut squash mixture. Nestle the shells in the baking dish. My squash mixture filled 24 shells, and I fit unfilled shells in any empty spaces.
Now it’s time to make the cream sauce. Add 1 minced shallot to a frying pan over medium high heat. Add in approximately 1/4 cup of white wine, and cook the shallots until they start turning translucent and the wine evaporates. Then, add in 2 cups of cream, scraping up any brown bits from the pan. Bring the cream to a simmer, and then stir in 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of grated nutmeg. Season the sauce to taste with salt.
Pour the cream sauce over the stuffed shells. Sprinkle some grated mozzarella cheese over the top of the shells, and put them in the oven to bake, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes until the cheese is beginning to brown.
While the shells bake, toast some pine nuts in a dry pan. Let the shells rest for a few minutes after they come out of the oven, and then portion them out onto plates.
Top the shells with the toasted pine nuts and some minced sage. Scoop up any cream sauce from the bottom of the baking dish, and drizzle it on top. Then, eat away. I really love these crispy, chewy, tender, and flavorful shells, and I hope you do too!
This recipe is adapted from epicuricloud.com.
- Jumbo pasta shells- approximately 30
- Butternut squash- 20 ounces
- Shallots- 2
- Garlic- 1 clove
- Ricotta cheese- 1.5 cups
- Parmesan cheese- 3/4 cup
- Egg- 1
- White wine- 1/4 cup
- Heavy cream- 2 cups
- Nutmeg- 1 teaspoon
- Mozzarella cheese- 1 cup
- Pine nuts- 1/2 cup
- Salt and pepper