I made stuffed shells for the first time a while back, and I’ve been looking forward to trying them again. Those Cheeseburger stuffed Shells were so good! This time around I’m going with a vegetarian option that seems to fit the season: Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells. And this recipe sounds crazy good. Pasta, cheese, creamy sauce, and butternut squash. You better believe I can’t wait to try this comfort food that seems to have been made for the Fall!
Get ready to see something messy. These butternut squash stuffed shells are tops.
The list of ingredients for these stuffed shells is on the long side, but it’s mostly basics. In fact, I had most of them on hand. The milk, flour, butter, garlic, nutmeg, and olive oil are all things I usually have in my kitchen. I even had the jumbo shells, mozzarella, and some parmesan leftover from recipes I have made recently.
The parmesan I had was very finely shredded instead of grated, but it worked nicely. I would not have substituted if I bought a fresh package of parmesan unless I couldn’t find grated. But since I had something similar, I used it rather than letting it go to waste.
That left me to buy a whopping a few things: butternut squash, fresh sage, a shallot, and mascarpone cheese. The mascarpone is probably the most “exotic” ingredient in this recipe. If you can’t find it, make a mascarpone cheese substitute out of cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, and sour cream.
These stuffed shells were ah-ma-zing, but I had questions. The recipe isn’t as specific as what I’m used to, and I had to pause and reread a few times before I was sure of what to do next. For example, the butternut squash needs to be cubed before roasting, but the size of the cubes isn’t specified. Maybe I overthought it, but cubes can be a tiny dice to an inch or more. I settled on larger one-inch cubes, and that seemed to work just fine.
Things moved along pretty smoothly once I got the squash into the oven (step 1), but there were long pauses while I waited for them to be done. Step 2 had several actions, and I had them all done well before the squash finished roasting. I was particularly happy about the shells having plenty of time to cool before I had to stuff them. There was even more than enough time to finish prepping all the other ingredients and do some tidying up.
Once I had the roasted butternut squash mashed with the remaining ingredients, it was time to stuff the cooled shells. I used a measuring tablespoon and started with what I estimated to be 1 1/2 tablespoons of puree. That seemed to over-stuff the shells, though, so I switched to 1 tablespoon. That worked a treat, and I didn’t have any extra squash mixture leftover.
My next question came up during the bechamel. The ingredients don’t include the parmesan with it (it’s listed as a topping), but the instructions do. I mixed it into the sauce as instructed, so the only toppings I used were the shredded mozzarella and the sage leaves.
Oh, the sage! There is no instruction given for them, so I took a close look at the picture. It looks like the leaves are slivered, so that’s what I did. I’m pretty sure they aren’t whole unless they are incredibly small.
So I had some questions on the fly, but nothing I couldn’t figure out. This recipe did take a while, so I had time to pause and think when I wasn’t certain about something. Here’s how my time was spent:
- 1 hour 12 minutes to prep
- 25 minutes to cook
- 1 hour 37 minutes total