Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells are creamy, cheesy, and packed with veggies. This is an excellent meat-free meal, even for picky eaters who normally turn their nose up at vegetables. Yes, that's me.
As a food blogger, the things I have always struggled most with is photography. We live in a visual world these days, and the pressure to make your life look perfect online has never been higher. It seems people will spend hours styling a shot that makes them seem effortlessly chic. The irony really smacks you in the face.
When I took these photos, I had a moment of real self-defeat. I made the wrong choice before this dish even went in the oven. That left it looking less than perfect by the time I got it in front of the camera. I was criticizing myself in a way I would never speak to another person.
What could I do? I could have started over. I could have bought all these ingredients again and taken more photos that may or may not have been better. What I've decided to do instead is share with you what this dish will really probably look like when it comes out of your oven. I've decided to remind you to be kind to yourself and allow yourself space to grow. This is the gift I'm going to try to give myself.
Guys, I also really want you to make this recipe. Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells are absolutely perfect for Autumn. It's a great option for meatless Monday, but any day of the week will do. I love this dish, and I normally stay far away from vegetables. Chewy pasta, soft squash, creamy bechamel, and of course, plenty of mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of sage make for the perfect dinner.
While nothing here is difficult to make, there are a few components to this dish. And your kitchen will not be clean by the end. I use frozen butternut squash chunks to save some time. And any time you make pasta, the first thing you should always do is put a pot of water on to boil. If you call in a little help to stuff your shells, you could easily get this on the table on a week night.
We're keeping it real here, friends. We're always learning, we're eating awesome food, and we're doing it all with kindness.
Butternut squash stuffed shells
- For the pasta
16-20 jumbo pasta shells
3 cups frozen butternut squash chunks
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
2 green onions, white parts, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-½ tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- For the bechamel sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- For the topping
⅓ cup shredded mozzarella
1 teaspoon dried sage
- Preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C) and put a large pot of water on to boil.
- Spread your butternut squash chunks out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake roast according to the package instructions. mine took about 25 minute to soften up. You can flip them over halfway through for more even cooking.
- While your squash is in the oven, you can cook your pasta. Add some salt to your boiling water, then tip in the jumbo shells. Cook them according to the package instructions, but make sure they're still a bit firm as they're going to go into the oven as well. Drain your pasta and set aside.
- While the squash and pasta are doing their thing, we're going to brown some butter. Add your butter to a small sauce pan, along with the green onion and minced garlic. Allow this to come to a simmer, and continue to cook until the butter begins to brown and smell nutty. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Once your squash is cooked, transfer it to a bowl to mash until smooth. Add the salt, nutmeg, brown butter mixture, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Stir this all together to combine.
- Lightly oil a 9-inch pie dish or a small casserole. Stuff each pasta shell with a spoonful of butternut squash mixture. I just use a soup spoon, and it seems to work well. Place each stuffed shell in your oiled pie dish as you go. Keep filling until you've used up all your squash.
- To make the bechamel, heat the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat until melted and bubbly. Sprinkle over the flour and whisk to combine. Let this cook for a minute or two until it starts to smell nutty. Slowly add in the milk about a quarter cup at a time, whisking out any lumps after each addition. Bring the sauce to a boil and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until thickened, whisking all the while.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the nutmeg and Parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it. I always feel like it needs a bit more salt.
- Pour the sauce evenly over your filled pasta shells. Scatter your mozzarella cheese and dried sage over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats.