The Millennial Chef

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 lb jumbo pasta shells

20 oz butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic, keep skins on

3-4 fresh sage leaves (save some for garnish), roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of chicken stock (or veggie stock or water)

1 cup heavy cream (or half and half or whole milk)

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

4 cups fresh spinach

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 cups whole milk ricotta

1 cup mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)

1 cup of Parmesan cheese

2 cups of mozzarella cheese

1 egg

Salt and pepper, to taste

Serving size-8-10

Approximate time to make- 1.25 hours

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400.
  2. Take out a large pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta one minute or two under package instructions as the pasta will continue to cook in the oven. Rinse, drain, and set aside to dry.
  3. Next, add the butternut squash, shallot, garlic, 2 sage leaves, 1/2 tablespoon of thyme, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper to a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil (1-2 teaspoons) and then mix until everything is coated. Roast the vegetables for 25 minutes. Once the vegetables have roasted, add to a blender (removing the garlic from the skins), and add 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly. Then, add the mixture to a small pot and add 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. In a separate saute pan, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes, or until wilted. Remove, and allow to cool. Once the spinach has cooled, put the spinach in a paper towel, and ring out any excess liquid. Then, add it to a bowl, plus the ricotta, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Mix and set aside.
  5. Now it's finally time to assemble! Take out a 13x9 baking dish and add half of the butternut squash mixture to the bottom of the pan. Then, fill each shell with the ricotta mixture (do not skimp here, it should be generously filled), and add to the baking dish, shell side down. Continue until each shell is filled and added to the dish. Pour the remaining butternut squash mixture over the shells and top with 2 cups of mozzarella (up to you how much you want to add here), plus 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and delicious. Garnish with fresh sage and enjoy!

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