Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells


Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
Serves 10-12 as a first course or 8 as a main course.

1 package jumbo pasta shells
2 packages butternut squash, peeled & cubed (or about 1b. or squash)
2 onions, quartered
2 tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper
1 32 oz. container vegetable stock
1 c. half & half
2 lbs. fresh ricotta cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1 c. grated parmesan
2 c. (packed) baby spinach
1 egg


Preheat oven to 400°. Combine squash and onion. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread onto a foil lined baking sheet, in a single layer (you may need 2 sheets) and roast for 1 hour. (If you have 2 sheets, rotate them after 30 minutes.) Remove trays from oven, allow to cool slightly, then transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor. Puree until smooth.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

With the food processor running, slowly pour in vegetable stock, then half & half. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Cover a baking sheet with clean foil. 

Cook you pasta shells in well-salted boiling water for about 8 minutes or until very al dente. They should be cooked just enough that they are malleable.

While the pasta is cooking, combine ricotta, half the mozzarella and half the parmesan. Season with salt & pepper. Then mix in the egg, and finally the spinach. The spinach may be a little difficult to get in there at first, it's ok if the leaves bruise or tear. 

Drain the pasta and spread out onto the baking sheet with clean foil - drizzle with some olive oil and toss with your hand (don't get burnt!) to make sure each piece is lightly coated so they won't stick. Pull apart any pieces that are stuck together.

In a large baking dish (or 2 smaller ones) add a few spoonfuls of the butternut squash sauce. Take a shell and loosely hold it open with your fingers, while spooning 1 tbs. of the ricotta filling into it. Nestle it in the sauce. Repeat with remaining shells until they are all stuffed and in a dish.

Top the shells with more of the sauce, and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella & parmesan. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes until cheese bubbles and edges get slightly crunchy. Serve warm.

Buon Appetito!