Butternut Squash-Stuffed Shells

These stuffed shells are packed with a spicy spinach and ricotta filling and nestled in a cozy roasted butternut Alfredo sauce.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 30 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

10 ounces diced butternut squash (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 small shallot, halved 

1 clove garlic, unpeeled 

2 teaspoons olive oil 

1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped 

1 large leaf fresh sage, finely chopped, plus more for serving 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

30 jumbo pasta shells (about 10 ounces) 

1/4 cup vegetable broth or water 

Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry  

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature 

2 cups whole-milk ricotta  

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 

2 cups grated Parmesan, plus more for serving 

2 cups heavy cream  

2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg 

1 cup freshly grated mozzarella  

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Add the squash, shallot and garlic to a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the thyme, sage, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper and toss again. Roast until the squash is tender and light golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool.  
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add the pasta shells and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Drain and let cool. 
  4. Squeeze the roasted garlic into a small food processor or blender, add the squash, shallot and vegetable broth and puree until smooth. 
  5. Mix together the spinach, cream cheese, ricotta, red pepper flakes, 2/3 cup of the Parmesan and 1 tablespoon salt in a large bowl. Stuff about 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture into each shell; set aside. 
  6. Add the pureed squash mixture, heavy cream and butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the remaining 1 1/3 cups Parmesan. 
  7. Spread the cheese sauce into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the stuffed shells in the baking dish seam-side up, shingling them so they all fit (you should have 5 shells along the short side and 6 shells along the long side). Top with the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Top with more Parmesan and sage before serving.