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Stuffed pasta shells in a bowl.

How to Make Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta Shells

The carb lovers among us will agree that the only thing better than pasta is stuffed pasta, especially when that pasta is stuffed with delicious, creamy ricotta cheese and then baked with more cheese on top.

Stuffed shells are like lasagna’s upscale cousin but infinitely easier to make, cook, and serve. This dish’s preparation is under 25 minutes, and you don’t have to worry about any layering or complicated béchamel sauces.

That doesn’t mean these stuffed pasta shells aren’t fancy, though. These shells feature fresh basil, three kinds of cheese, and roasted butternut squash, which will elevate your pasta (and tastebuds) to a whole new level.

If you’ve never made roasted butternut squash before, you are in for a treat. Its subtle, sweet flavor balances the tomato sauce perfectly.

Let’s get into the detailed recipe so you can try them out for yourself!

How to Make Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta Shells

Preparation: 25 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour & 5 minutes

Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, seeded, and cut into large chunks (about 2 lbs / 1 kg)
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 5 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 box of giant pasta shells (about 20 shells)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil

Baked butternut squash stuffed pasta shells in a bowl, ready to eat.

Preparation

Step 1

Place the squash pieces on a baking sheet, skin side down, and brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Step 2

Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and cook for another 20 minutes or until the squash and garlic are very tender.

Step 3

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the shells for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain the shells and place them side by side on a clean cloth. Set to the side.

Note: These shells can be made a day in advance, or you can freeze them for up to three months, making a quick and easy weeknight dinner. Once your shells are stuffed, cover them with your sauce. Wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap, then foil. Right before you’re ready to bake them, add the fresh basil and cheese and voila!

Step 4

Remove squash and garlic from the oven and let cool enough to handle. Using a spoon, scrape the cooked squash flesh and put it in a bowl. Peel the roasted garlic cloves and add them to the bowl.

You might also want to try out: How to Make Creamy Avocado Pasta

Stuffed pasta shell filling in a bowl.

Step 5

Using a fork, mash squash, and garlic to a smooth purée. Add the ricotta cheese and half the basil and mix until the filling is smooth. Using a spoon, stuff the pasta shells with the squash and cheese filling.

Step 6

Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish. Place the stuffed shells side by side on the sauce. Sprinkle with basil. Cover with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.

Butternut squash stuffed pasta shells in a baking pan.

Step 7

Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

Stuffed pasta shells baked with cheese in a baking dish.

Buon Appetito!

This simple yet upscale recipe is sure to become a fast favorite in your household. Feel free to experiment with different sauces and cheese to create your own unique flavors.

Looking for some more Italian-inspired dishes? Make sure to check out: How to Make Thin-Crust Italian-Style Pizza

Sophie Viau

Sophie Viau

Sophie is a blogger, writer, entrepreneur, world traveler, and photographer. As a young woman she had an unusual dream: To discover Iceland! "Nobody in my entourage had an interest in this type of trip" says Sophie, so she decided to go alone. What she discovered was that, not only was... Read More

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