This is a casserole I can get behind— jumbo shells filled with kale and ricotta cheese, nestled and baked into a rich and flavorful butternut squash sauce.

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce from

As much as I love to cook and play around in the kitchen, I actually have a small number of dinner recipes I cycle through, with a few experiments thrown into the mix from time to time. This recipe is one such experiment that went over so well it’s made it into the inner circle and become a regular during this time of year.

I’ve already made it three times this season, which considering it’s only the beginning of October, tells you just how much we love it.

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce from

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce from

Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall and winter flavors, but oddly enough I’m not a big fan of its texture as it is post-roast. And so I puree it, along with other great things like onions, fresh herbs and cream, and put it on everything or serve it straight from the blender as a simple yet wonderful soup.

This particular recipe was born out of the need to find more uses for my beloved butternut squash sauce, and it’s now perhaps my favorite use for it. We just barely had it last week and I’m already looking forward to when I can make it again!

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce from

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce from

A few recipe notes

>> There are a few steps to this recipe, but it can all be made ahead. I like to prepare everything in the morning and refrigerate it until I’m ready to bake it that evening.

>> The butternut squash sauce freezes really well, so if you have leftovers or would like to make it in advance, pour it into a tupperware with a screw top lid and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. It will also last in the fridge for up to 1 week.

>> If you’d like, spinach can be used instead of kale.

>> Some of the jumbo shells will break during cooking, so I’ve included a few more in the list of ingredients than you’ll actually need.

>> The shells will also stick together after they’ve been cooked and drained, so toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil or arrange them on a greased sheet pan (not touching) until you’re ready to assemble.

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce from

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce
Jumbo pasta shells filled with kale and ricotta cheese, baked in a bath of homemade butternut squash sauce. It's a dish the whole family is sure to love!
Yield: 4 servings
Butternut Squash Sauce:
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary and/or sage
  • 2 cups (475 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup (237 ml) milk or cream
  • 15 jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups (1 small bunch) kale, torn into small pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) whole or skim milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (113 grams) shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
To make the sauce:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the cubed butternut squash, chopped onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs. Spread evenly into the sheet pan. Bake until butternut squash is tender, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the roasted butternut squash and onions, chicken/vegetable stock, and milk/cream and blend until smooth. Work in batches if necessary. Set sauce aside or store in the fridge for up to 7 days if making ahead.
To assemble the stuffed shells.
  1. Boil the jumbo pasta shells in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. While pasta is boiling, work on assembling the filling. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add kale pieces and cook, stirring often, until kale is reduced in size by half. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt and pepper, and kale mixture.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x12-inch baking dish with nonstick spray or butter.
  5. Pour the butternut squash sauce into the greased dish. It should be about 1-1/2 inches deep. Scoop a spoonful of the kale and ricotta mixture into 12 of the cooked pasta shells. Place the shells into the butternut squash sauce.
  6. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

October_Eat Seasonal_Instagram


Some of my blogging friends and I are taking on the challenge to eat seasonally. Check out Vintage Mixer’s guide to what’s in season this month and join us, won’t you?


Beet Braised Lentils with Thyme and Apples from Simple Bites
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Sliders from Climbing Grier Mountain
Warm Spinach Salad with Mushroom-Bacon Vinaigrette from Mountain Mama Cooks
Apple Bread with Brown Butter Glaze from Two Peas and their Pod
Microwave Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal from Project Domestication
Pumpkin Butter Smoothie from Kitchen Confidante
Mini Chicken Pot Pies from My Name is Yeh
Fall Frisee Salad from Cafe Johnsonia
Fried Green Tomatoes Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Foodie Crush
Carrot and Date Bran Muffins from Vintage Mixer

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26 Responses to Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce

  1. Pasta dishes are my absolute favorites, actually pasta is a staple here in Italy (as you probably already know!) and am always looking for new sauces and recipes to switch things up a bit from time to time. Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall/winter vegetables, so you can bet I’ll be trying this recipe out for sure!

    xo, Elisa

  2. Hooray for butternut squash! Is it OK if I pour that sauce all over EVERYTHING? Love!

  3. I love cooking and eating seasonal produce. . I think I’m especially loving all of the savory fall pumpkin and butternut squash recipes the most! LOVE this stuffed shells recipe! I love kale and ricotta so I am in love with this one! Enthusiastically pinned!

  4. I can get behind this recipe as well. It looks gorgeous and I love the flavors.

  5. Can’t get much more seasonal than this! A big bowl of squash pasta is my total fall comfort food!

  6. Wow, your recipe looks amazing and I really like the set up of your photography. Anyhow,I need to give a try to this lovely dish. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. This looks amazing, Annalise! I want to face plant right into that pan of cheesy, butternutty shells! YUM!

  8. I love that we both channeled squash today!! These stuffed shells look off the charts.

  9. I want to just cozy right up in this dish and stay there all season.

  10. Flavia says:

    What a great variation on stuffed shells! Butternut squash is my favorite of all the Fall produce. I love how you turned it into a pasta sauce. Bravissima! P.S. Can I come over for dinner? I’ll do the dishes. :)

  11. Breanne says:

    Love new recipe ideas for butternut squash, this looks like a winner. Anything with ricotta, sage and squash for fall. =)

  12. So great that you experimented and came up with this, out of one of your usual dishes! Looks so delightful!!

  13. Joanna says:

    Oh my! I wished I would have seen this a few days ago. I have a butternut squash that I had bought for a harvest vegetable cheesy bake and discovered that I was out of the other veggies that I needed. I decided to go sweet and made a butternut squash banana bread. Although it turned out pretty tasty, this would have been much better! Now I know what to do with my next butternut squash.

    • Annalise says:

      Thanks for the comment, Joanna! Glad I can give you excuse to buy another butternut squash. :) You won’t regret it!

  14. I’m the same way in the kitchen – a creature of habit. I love when I find experiments that make it into the inner circle. This one looks simultaneously unique and comforting – I love the butternut squash and kale combo with the familiar ricotta. Yum!

  15. Kera says:

    This looks so good and I can’t wait to make it. Can I ask where you got your dish from? I love it!

  16. This looks like the ultimate comfort food! I’m loving all things fall these days. Butternut squash and pasta sounds like the perfect meal for a crisp autumn day!

  17. My oh my!! This is my ideal fall dish I think! I’m making it asap!!

  18. Staci says:

    This recipe sound delicious! I can not wait to try it and tell all my friends and family about it!

  19. Janey Luper says:

    I made this recipe this past week. It was delicious. Husband loved it!!

  20. Heather Patterson says:

    Does this freeze well ?

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