By Haley Peck
As an Italian food lover, I can’t help but drool every time I flip through an Italian cookbook or come across recipes on the Internet. Stuffed shells in particular are something I have wanted to make for a long time, but haven’t actually made before, so I’ve decided to give it a try. One of the best parts about stuffed shells is that they can be stuffed with pretty much anything. I’ve seen recipes experimenting with all different meats, cheeses, vegetables, starches, and more, but I’ve had my eye on one specific recipe for quite some time, so I decided to follow through and make butternut squash stuffed shells dish with sage brown butter sauce! YUM. Although butternut squash is mainly a fall-based food, I bent the rules a little bit and went with my taste buds (and what’s still in season!). Hopefully some sweet squash will bring the warmth and joy to your table during these last few months of winter. Enjoy!
1 large butternut squash
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
20-24 jumbo pasta shells
2 cups of part skin ricotta cheese
1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves minced
½ cup of spinach (chop after measuring)
1 egg, 1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 stick of butter
8-10 fresh sage leaves
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel the butternut squash and chop into small cubes. Put the cubes into a pan filled with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The squash is ready when you can put a fork into it and it feels tender. Then put the squash into a bowl and mash with a fork until it’s smooth. Let the mashed squash cooled down to room temperature before using in the recipe. Cook the jumbo shells regularly, followed by the packages directions, and drain. In a large sized bowl, mix together the squash, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, minced garlic, egg, salt, pepper, fresh lemon zest. Stir completely.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and place the cooked pasta shells on a lightly greased baking dish (9X13-inch preferably). Stuff the cooked pasta shells with the squash and ricotta mixture, and bake for 18-20 minutes until they are hot all the way through.
It is the perfect time to make the brown butter sauce while the shells are cooking. Start by melting the stick of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter is golden brown (should take about 10-12 minutes), and is at a hot and bubbly consistency, add the sage leaves and cook until the leaves are somewhat crisp.
Remove the pan of shells from the oven and squeeze the juice of 1 full lemon on top. Drizzle the sauce over the cooked shells and top with extra Parmesan cheese if desired. If you want your shells to look fancy and have some extra flavor, serve them with a few crisp sage leaves on top. Buon appetito!
My name is Haley Peck and I’m a junior majoring in Public Health at Syracuse University. I love to cook, bake, eat, and experiment with all food, especially healthy food! Follow me on Twitter @hapeck1