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Stuffed Pasta Shells in a white pan surrounded by spinach and fresh ricotta

Stuffed Pasta Shells with Spinach, Ricotta and Butternut Squash

These stuffed pasta shells with spinach, ricotta and butternut squash are delicious, and not to mention they can be made ahead, frozen and baked whenever you're in need of a tasty meal!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 20 pasta shells
Calories 134.51 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 pasta shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 6 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts chopped into small pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare the butternut squash

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut both ends off of the butternut squash and peel it with a vegetable peeler. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut it into 1-2cm cubes. Place the cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

  2. Place baking sheet in the oven and roast for approximately 30 minutes, or until butternut squash is slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cook the spinach

  1. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a nonstick pan. Add the spinach, a touch of salt, and cook until wilted. Let cool.

Cook the pasta shells

  1. In the mean time, bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water, and throw the shells in. Boil the shells until they are well cooked. Set the shells aside.

Prepare the filling

  1. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the spinach.

  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, spinach, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Stuff the Shells

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, Fill each cooked shell with some of the filling, and the butternut squash cubes (3-4 cubes per shell). Place the shells in a baking dish.

  2. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the shells in the oven until warmed through, about 30 minutes.

Make the Brown Butter, Sage and Hazelnut Sauce

  1. While shells are baking, make the brown butter sage and hazelnut sauce. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan. When it starts to turn a light brown color (3-5 minutes), add the sage leaves and hazelnuts. Let butter cook until it foams, and foam starts to recede, brown specks have formed in the butter, and butter is dark brown in color. Remove from heat.

  2. Remove shells from the oven, and drizzle butter sauce over shells. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • If your ricotta has a lot of moisture in it and is quite liquid (which most ricottas are), be sure to strain it first. If you do not strain it, your filling will be runny.
    • How to strain the ricotta:
      • Place a sieve over a bowl, and place the ricotta in the sieve. Level it out and place a piece of parchment paper over the ricotta. Place a heavy item (I use my big jar of salt) on the parchment paper. Let ricotta drain into the bowl for at least 20 minutes.
  • You can use chopped frozen spinach instead of fresh spinach for this recipe. Simply let the frozen spinach thaw and squeeze out the liquid before using
  • Cook the pasta shells until they are well done, (not al dente). They will not become softer when baked in the oven.
  • Make sure that when baking the stuffed shells, that you cover them with aluminum foil. If not covered, they will dry out while baking. 
  • You can make these shells ahead of time - cook the shells, fill them and without baking, store them in the fridge or freezer until ready to use. When ready, bake them in the oven, make the butter sauce, and top the shells with the sauce. 
  • You will definitely have leftover butternut squash cubes. Use the leftovers to add to salads, or make a butternut squash soup. 
Nutrition Facts
Stuffed Pasta Shells with Spinach, Ricotta and Butternut Squash
Amount Per Serving
Calories 134.51 Calories from Fat 95
% Daily Value*
Fat 10.53g16%
Saturated Fat 5.55g35%
Cholesterol 34.07mg11%
Sodium 99.71mg4%
Potassium 220.12mg6%
Carbohydrates 6.45g2%
Fiber 1.08g5%
Sugar 1.02g1%
Protein 4.6g9%
Vitamin A 5106.36IU102%
Vitamin C 10.47mg13%
Calcium 101.3mg10%
Iron 0.71mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.