Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce

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 completelydelicious.com

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 completelydelicious.com

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce from completelydelicious.com

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 completelydelicious.com

Kale and Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce from completelydelicious.com

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 completelydelicious.com

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!

Ingredients

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 chicken or vegetable stock (475 ml)
  • 1 cup milk or cream (237 ml)

Assembly:

  • 15 jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups kale , torn into small pieces (1 small bunch)
  • 2 cloves of garlic , minced
  • 8 ounces whole or skim milk ricotta cheese (226 grams)
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (113 grams)
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and pepper , to taste

Instructions

To make the sauce:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F 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.
  • 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.

  • Boil the jumbo pasta shells in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • 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.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, salt and pepper, and kale mixture.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray or butter.
  • Pour the butternut squash sauce into the greased dish. It should be about 1 ½ 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.
  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 429kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 64mg, Sodium: 457mg, Potassium: 824mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 15922IU, Vitamin C: 55mg, Calcium: 438mg, Iron: 2mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below, send me an email, or take a photo and tag it on instagram with #completelydelicious.