Today is such a great day.
And that’s because it’s a day filled with pasta.
You know how much I love pasta (exhibit A, B & C), but I’ve been trying to cut back a little because, as a creature of habit, I tend to overdo certain things. Especially when it comes to food. Pasta is essentially my favorite thing in life. So anyways, I’ve been trying to save it for special occasions, and today just happens to be one of them. Not because it’s a holiday, or a birthday, or whatever, it’s just Sunday and I want a coupla jumbo shells stuffed with ricotta.
Ya hear me?
Per my usual shenanigans, these are not ordinary stuffed shells. There are handfuls of kale mixed in with the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, loads of garlic and seasonings, and then topped with the – best ever – butternut squash pasta sauce. Made from scratch.
I mean, you could use a jar of marinara, or even a jar of butternut squash pasta sauce, but my recipe is pretty darn easy to make, and it’s super delish. It’s just olive oil, garlic, butternut squash puree (I just roasted a whole squash, but you can buy it in a can), some milk or cream, Parmesan, and salt and pepper. You can certainly add some herbs, or whatever your lil heart desires. It’s your sauce!
And while you’re at it, you may as well make 3 or 4 batches and have it on hand. You’re gonna want more of it – just sayin’.
- 24 jumbo pasta shells
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- 2 cups butternut squash puree*
- ¼ cup cream or milk
- Coarse salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan, divided
- 1 (15 oz.) tub ricotta
- 1-2 cup(s) chopped kale
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. coarse salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- Chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Drain and let slightly cool.
- In the same stock pot, heat oil to medium-high heat. Add 2 cloves garlic and saute 30 seconds, until fragrant. Whisk in butternut squash puree and cream or milk and bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. If lumpy, use an immersion blender to puree. Stir in ¼ cup Parmesan. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, kale, ¼ cup parmesan, ½ cup mozzarella, 3 cloves garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, until combined.
- Spread a half cup of butternut squash sauce onto the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Stuff each shell with a few tablespoons of ricotta mixture, then layer them on top of the butternut squash sauce. Top shells with remaining butternut squash sauce, then cover with remaining 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Top with parsley and serve.
- *To make your own butternut squash puree: Slice a whole medium butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds; discard. Place squash upside down on a baking sheet and pour a small layer of water at the bottom of the pan. Roast at 400 degrees for an hour, until flesh is very tender. Allow to slightly cool, then scoop flesh from the skin; discard skin.