Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Personally, I firmly believe that the butternut squash/pasta combo is a match made in heaven. Once, when I attended a holiday dinner for my husband’s job, the caterers served a butternut squash ravioli that was, honest to goodness, the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. Ever. My efforts to recreate it later (complete with homemade pasta and all) didn’t quite live up to the reality of that precious evening. As in, my ravioli exploded everywhere while boiling and I ended up with butternut-ravioli-mush, which wasn’t exactly what I was after, if you know what I mean.

So, when I spied this butternut squash stuffed shell recipe on Pinterest, I was pretty hopeful it would redeem my failed butternut-pasta attempt from years gone by. And it did. These shells are stuffed with a combination of roasted butternut squash, creamy ricotta, a touch of lemon (so essential to brighten up the dish) and other fantastic and wholesome ingredients (well, except for that entire stick of butter used in the ridiculously yummy brown butter sage sauce).

Drizzled with the aforementioned butter-sage concoction and topped with crispy sage leaves, these shells are utterly divine and very elegant, if you want to serve them to company. I, for one, did not serve them to company, unless you count my four rugrats and their dad as “company.” And for the record, not one of them commented on the elegance of the shells while they shoveled them down. Sigh. I savored each and every lovely bite on behalf of them all. P.S. If you aren’t crazy about drizzling a stick of butter (browned to other-worldly deliciousness and infused with fresh sage), well, shame on you and your calorie-conscious ways. But if you still refuse, I’ve also served these shells with our favorite simple garlic alfredo sauce and…well…they are magnificent that way, too.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

What To ServeFor a meat factor, this Mediterranean Pork or Broiled Parmesan and Lemon Chicken
Fresh vegetables with Homemade Ranch Dressing
Buttery Peas with Thyme

One Year Ago: The Ultimate 7-Layer Dip {Sugar Rush Reinvented: #10}
Two Years Ago: Rocky Mountain Cookies {Sugar Rush #11}
Three Years Ago: Tutorial: Shaping Perfect Rolls

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Sage Browned Butter

Yield: Serves 6

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Sage Browned Butter

Note: These stuffed shells are rich and delicious to eat. If you want an alternative to the brown butter sage sauce (which is crazy delicious), I've also made these and served them with this quick and simple garlic alfredo sauce. Either way is totally divine.

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounce package jumbo pasta shells (about 20-24 shells total)
  • 2 cups of part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh spinach (chop after measuring)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel the butternut squash and chop the flesh into cubes. Toss the cubed squash in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the squash is fork tender. Scrape the warm squash into a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Let it cool to warm room temperature before using in the recipe (this step can be done 2-3 days in advance and the cooked, mashed squash can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator). Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook the jumbo pasta shells according to package directions and drain. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan, garlic, spinach, egg, salt and pepper and fresh lemon zest. Stir well. Stuff the cooked pasta shells with the squash/ricotta mixture and place them in a lightly greased 9X13-inch baking dish (depending on how full you fill the shells, you may not use all of them). Bake the shells for 18-20 minutes, until they are hot all the way through.
  3. While the shells are making, prepare the brown butter sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat until the butter is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Watch carefully as the butter can go from browned to burned in a short time. Add the sage leaves and cook until the leaves are slightly crisp (the butter should be hot and bubbly when adding the leaves so that the sage cooks quickly). Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon.
  4. Drizzle the sauce over the cooked shells and top with additional grated Parmesan, if desired. Serve the shells with 1-2 crisp sage leaves on top.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/butternut-squash-stuffed-shells-with-sage-browned-butter/
Recipe Source: adapted from Proud Italian Cook

37 Responses to Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Sage Browned Butter

  1. Kim in MD says:

    I have always wanted to try the butternut squash/pasta combo, but for some reason never have. This sounds so delicious, and it’s going on my “must try” recipe list!

  2. Karen says:

    This looks so yummy! Because I run a household of carnivores, I will add crumbled & cooked Italian sausage to the mixture and see how it tastes. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for sharing – I adore your website and recipe ideas.

  3. StephenC says:

    Ravioli that come apart in the boiling water are a problem. They take a very careful construction technique. You are right on the money about the idea of squash, pasta and sage being a marriage made in heaven.

  4. This sounds wonderful! I love the butternut squash/pasta combo, too!

  5. Laurie Nihiser says:

    These sound crazy delicious. Coming from an Italian family, we do a meatless Christmas Eve with fish/seafood and always a pasta dish. Thinking of adding this to this year’s buffet but I’d love to make this week and freeze. Do you think that would work? And would you defrost to thaw and then bake or bake right from frozen?

  6. Hananananah says:

    Ah!! This is brilliant. I loooove butternut squash ravioli…the shell solution is so perfect, I can’t believe we haven’t all thought of it. Even better, K and I preserved this fall’s squash harvest by baking, mashing, and freezing in vacuum seal bags…I’m halfway there already!

  7. This looks really lovely — I adore butternut squash in anything!

  8. Jennifer G. says:

    I want to make this for dinner when my non meat eating mom arrives for the holidays. Do you think it would hold well if I stuffed the shells in advance and then refrigerated in the morning to bake later that evening? How much extra time should I bake them?

  9. I love stuffed shells! This looks like a delicious version of them…

  10. Mel says:

    Laurie and Jennifer – for a make-ahead option, yes, I definitely think you could stuff the shells in advance and refrigerate for up to 12 hours or so. As for freezing, Laurie, I *think* that would work but since I haven’t actually frozen them, I can’t be 100% sure. I would probably defrost in the fridge overnight and then bake.

  11. Laurie Nihiser says:

    Thanks, Mel – that’s what I’m going to do. I’m thinking since you can buy shells/manicotti that are already stuffed and frozen, this should work. I’ll let you know after I do it! Just got back from the store and ready to roll!

  12. Kimberly Christiansen says:

    This looked so yummy I decide to make it for dinner tonight! The squash is roasting in the oven as we speak and it smells sooo good. Perfect for a cold windy day. :-) Thanks!!

  13. Terri says:

    This looks fantastic! And since I have all the ingredients on hand, except for the fresh sage, I’ll be making it this week! I can’t wait !

  14. Cammee says:

    Ok seriously, I need to go wipe the drool off my face. I have a feeling these could be my new favorite thing.

  15. Costco has pre-peeled, pre-cut butternut squash in their refrigerated produce section right now. This might make it easier to throw together! Just thought people might like knowing about it, since I just discovered it and love it!! Can’t wait to try the recipe!

  16. Andrea says:

    I made this tonite for dinner. It was divine!! My hubby and I loved it. So yummy and buttery. My only complaint is the shells got pretty hard in the oven. I was concerned about this as there was no sauce to pour over them til after they baked. Maybe covering it would help? I may try the garlic alfredo sauce next time. I also need a better veggie peeler as peeling the butternut squash was a real pain!!! My 12 yr old son opted out and had a pb & j after one taste. My 15 yr old daughter ate it fine but did complain about the toughness of the shells. Thank you!!!

  17. Bonnie says:

    We just had this for dinner and it was a hit!! My children 6, 5, 3, and 19 months all ate a good portion. I made both the butter sage sauce and the alfredo sauce. My family liked the alfredo sauce a bit better but both were good. Fresh green beans on the side with rolls and dinner is done. Thanks so much for all the wonderful recipes.

  18. Jennifer G. says:

    Just a follow up-I wanted to make these for my non-meat eating mother when she came to visit last week. I ran out of time to make them ahead an had her make them. She didn’t read the recipe properly and put the butter and sage in the FILLING! I was disappointed she mixed up the recipe since we were hungry and had no sauce for the top. We ate them anyway and the flavor was still delicious and I will be making them again the proper way. I’ll probably buy the pre-cut/peeled butternut at Costco next time to save some work though.

  19. Tammy says:

    I am with Andrea…the shells were super tough and chewy after baking them, but I also did them on a jelly roll pan instead of a 9×13 so they weren’t close together or touching. Next time I will probably put them in a 9×13 and also cover them. And I will roast my butternut squash in halves to save the time and effort of peeling and chopping. But the flavor was wonderful. Thanks Mel.

  20. Amy@Serving Pink Lemoande says:

    I made these last night for dinner and they were delicious! Even my four year old liked them. Following the suggestions I covered mine while baking to keep the shells from drying out. I halved the brown butter sauce and that was a mistake. It was delicious. Next time I’ll make the whole recipe. I had more shells than I could fit in my 9×13 pan so I put some in another pan and am freezing them for another day. Thanks so much for the great recipe. It was fun to try something new.

  21. A says:

    I made these for my boyfriend the other night, and now he loves me more….or so he says. :) Irregardless, I LOVED them and will be making the often anytime I want to impress someone. Thanks for another wonderful recipe, Mel.

  22. Kelly says:

    How do you think adorn squash would work? I have one on hand and trying to figure out what to do with it. If not, any ideas?
    Thank you:)

  23. Tracey says:

    As soon as you posted this, I knew I wanted to make it, as I love butternut squash! I just made these for dinner tonight, and was a little disappointed to be honest. They tasted much to “lemony” for our taste. I think I would make them again, and omit the lemon zest in the filling. For me, it overpowered the taste of the butternut squash.

  24. Keisha says:

    I can’t explain how incredible this recipe is. I roasted the squash in 2 halfs then I scrapped it out. The brown butter sauce with sage knocked my socks. I also stuffed mine with ground Italian sausage. I also took the tip of covering my pan to keep from ruining the shells. The outcome is sooo worth the effort.

  25. Adrienne says:

    Absolutely delish! I took the other posters advice and covered the shells with foil while I baked them. I cooled the squash on a sheet tray in the fridge in order to save time. LOVED the brown butter sauce. Thanks for the great recipe!

  26. queenann says:

    Made this and loved it. Yes, next time I will cover with foil.

    The sage! So good.

  27. rose says:

    Is there a measurement on how much butternut squash I should use? I had so much mashed squash, I removed some before adding in the other ingredients like ricotta, spinach, egg

  28. [...] lastly, “Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Sage Browned Butter” from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe – she’s another favorite – I’ve probably made more of her [...]

  29. Michelle B. says:

    I’m with “rose” — how much of the mashed squash do you add in? (I assume you add it to the ricotta cheese mixture).
    Excited to try this tonight, hopefully!

  30. Michelle B. says:

    Another question — do you remove the sage leaves from the butter sauce before drizzling over the shells? (The 1 -2 crisp leaves you serve them with – is that from the butter sauce, then?)

  31. Mel says:

    Michelle – I don’t have an exact measurement for the squash and it’s been a while since I’ve made these, but I’d guess somewhere around 2-3 cups (sorry, Rose – I never saw your question!). And yes, the garnished sage leaves are from the browned butter sauce.

  32. Amanda c says:

    Oh my gosh. I feel like we have eaten the same ravioli. I can’t wait to make this and see how it compares.

  33. Laine says:

    For those of you looking to freeze, how about making it as a lasagna? Could put beschamel flavored with sage in between layers, par-bake, freeze and then bake from frozen. You could add mozzarella on top, too! :)

  34. Kerri says:

    I was asked to make squash for a Christmas potluck, and thought, “How lame…I bet Mel has a way to make it interesting!”- and I was right, you never disappoint.
    I’m sure this is a silly question, but just to be clear, you mix in the mashed squash with the ricotta mixture before stuffing the pasta, right?
    Can’t wait to make this! :)

  35. Mel says:

    Kerri – yes, you mix it all up before stuffing the shells. Hope you like it!

  36. Bianca says:

    Loved this recipe but my whole family agreed on one thing; The sage should have been left out.

  37. […] This Butternut Squash Stuffed Shell recipe is more than we could have ever hope for. Rich and delicious, it’s the perfect comfort food for a dreary day.  Our friend at Mel’s Kitchen has a great recipe for you to try here […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.