Welcome Fall! You are a breath of fresh air. Oh, how I've missed you!
But, I think anyone here in Texas misses Fall and welcomes it with open arms. By the time the end of September rolls around, I'm always more than ready for the cooler weather and the change of the seasons. I'm done with these 90+ degree days, dang it.
To further welcome in the fall equinox, I decided I wanted to do something fun with butternut squash. I know when I think of fall foods, squashes and gourds are often the first things that come to mind.
I had gotten a mixed bag of 'super greens' in my local box a few weeks ago that I sautéed up and placed in the freezer - sort of in the same manner that you get frozen chopped spinach. I knew that it would pair perfectly with what I had in mind for fall!
In fact, frozen chopped spinach works just as well in this recipe - if not better since it's quick and easy to use! I only used the frozen super greens that I had on hand because... they were what I had on hand.
These stuffed shells are full of fall flavor. And, though there's a few steps involved with making them, they are actually pretty easy to make. The butternut squash sauce here reminds me very much of the Skinny Butternut Squash & Apple Soup or the Skinny Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup that I've made before. Both are family favorites that I like to make every fall season when using up these lovely winter squashes.
I served my shells with a nice side of living butter leaf salad that was left pretty simple and lightly dressed since the shells were already a pretty inclusive meal in themselves; a little extra fresh vegetables was all they really needed.
These can also be made ahead of time, covered and left in the refrigerator until ready to heat through. I wouldn't go past making them a day ahead though! They also reheat pretty well as leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.
Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce
Servings: 7 • Size: 2 Shells • Calories: 202.5 • Fat: 1.3 g • Carb: 31.8 g • Fiber: 2.7 g • Protein: 16.4 g • Sugar: 3.2 g • Sodium: 385 mg
1 1/2 Lb. Butternut Squash, Peeled - Seeded & Diced
1/2 Medium Red Onion, Chopped
1/4 Tsp. Crushed Red Chili Flakes
1/2 C. Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 C. Fat Free Half & Half
1 Tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Stuffed Pasta Shells:
14 Jumbo Shells of Pasta
15 Oz. Fat Free Ricotta
1 1/4 C. Shredded Fat Free Mozzarella
5 Oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach/Greens, Thawed & Drained
1 Large Whole Egg
1/4 Tsp. Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with foil.
Lightly coat the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
Toss the butternut squash, onion, chili flakes and salt & pepper to taste onto the prepared baking sheet together.
Bake until the squash is tender, about 40 minutes, flipping and moving the vegetables around occasionally.
While your squash is baking, cook your pasta according to package directions.
Drain and set aside on parchment paper to cool enough to handle.
Once the vegetables are done baking, transfer to a food processor or blender along with the broth, half & half, and apple cider vinegar; blend together until smooth.
Leave the oven on!
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 c. cheese, greens, egg, nutmeg, and salt & pepper to taste.
I say greens because you can also use kale or any other leafy green vegetable of your choice. I actually used up a bag of mixed super greens that I had sautéed and froze for myself, but frozen chopped spinach works just as well here!
Lightly coat the inside of a 13x9" baking dish with non-stick spray and spread about half of the butternut squash sauce onto the bottom of the dish.
Fill each of the shells with the ricotta mixture and place them into the baking dish.
Spoon the remaining sauce over the top of the filled shells, sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and cover with foil; place in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes.
Remove the foil after the 30 minutes and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or so.
Serve right away and enjoy!