Butternut Squash and Sausage-Stuffed Shells

Last night, as I fed just 2 mouths instead of 3, it was one less mouth complaining about what was for dinner. Because the answer wasn’t macaroni and cheese or pizza. Mark tends not to complain about what’s for dinner, but sometimes…it’s all 3 mouths. You guys, it is BRUTAL having meals prepared for you every night, let me tell ya…

Shea continues her week in Illinois with the grandparents, completing remote learning. Lord loving, she returns to school next week. If not, we have a plan and will hang on for dear life. We’ll welcome her home, rejections of what’s for dinner and all.

Piper on the other hand, learned about air fryer pork chops last night. In fact, we all did. I’ve never, ever made pork chops before. GASP! When I polled my foodie friends for kid-friendly meal ideas that were workday appropriate, this one received some serious endorsement.

My take thus far on the air fryer? It dirties a lot of dishes and makes small batches. Results are good, but not always good enough to warrant the mess or wait. Pork chops, though….yeah, they were pretty awesome. Piper, the 4-year-old, put away 2 pork chops and begrudgingly ate only a bite of her brussels sprouts and smashed potatoes. She was into the pork chops, no doubt! I wonder what Shea would’ve thought of them. Soon enough, we’ll find out. They will be on repeat, rebuttal or not!

What did my girls last reject whole-heartedly? These stuffed shells. UNCALLED FOR, GIRLS!! But seriously, I didn’t sweat it one bit because I wanted alllllllllllllllll the leftovers, especially after the time and effort that went into them. I, for one, think stuffed shells are a pain in the rear…but somehow, totally worth it. Plan accordingly.

Note to self: that is a not a Tuesday evening after a workout.

The flavor profile on these — holy Toledo. They’re cold weather food perfection and yet, quite plentiful in vegetables and totally balanced. Your taste buds roll through the sweet and savory combination in complete confusion and total ecstasy. You’re welcome for turning you on to your new favorite cold weather dish!

Butternut Squash and Sausage-Stuffed Shells

Butternut Squash and Sausage-Stuffed Shells

Yield: 21 stuffed shells
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This sweet and savory combo will probably results in your favorite cold weather dish!

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb jumbo shells, cooked al dente
  • 19.5 oz sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup 2% milk
  • ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 15 oz low-fat ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup parmesan, shredded

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a fork, poke holes in the butternut squash, covering the surface every few inches. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes. Carefully remove from the microwave and peel and cube.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cubed squash and sliced onion on top; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the shells and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse with water to avoid sticking and breaking.
  5. Meanwhile, cook sausage over medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon into crumbles. When sausage is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat.
  6. Place roasted butternut squash and onion in a blender or large bowl; add the milk and broth. If using a blender; puree until smooth or if using an immersion blender, carefully blend until smooth; transfer to the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, egg, and parmesan. Add sausage and spinach into ricotta and stir until well-mixed.
  8. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9x13 baking dish.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered. Top with additional parmesan, if desired.

Notes

Recipe slightly adapted from Rachel Schultz and originally, Completely Delicious

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 7 Serving Size: 3 stuffed shells
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 413Total Fat: 14.9gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 648mgCarbohydrates: 44.9gFiber: 5.7gSugar: 10.9gProtein: 28.4g

Looking for more comforting, cold weather food? Look no further!

Be well,

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4 Comments

  1. Sue
    December 8, 2020 / 8:29 pm

    Does microwaving the butternut squash make it easier to peel? Do you burn your fingers?
    I have recently started just peeling the cold squash. It’s not that hard, and I feel it wastes less than trying to scrape it once it is cooked. Recipe looks delicious, similar to a squash/spinach lasagna I made recently.

    • Nicole Morrissey
      Author
      December 8, 2020 / 8:57 pm

      Hi Sue! Great question! I use a towel or hot pad to grab it, but it cools quickly. I lop off each end an then use a vegetable peeler – it’s MUCH easier for me. The other perk is less roasting time before you can make the sauce. If you don’t microwave the squash, add 10-20 minutes to roasting time with the onion 🙂

  2. Melissa
    December 9, 2020 / 11:09 am

    This sounds delicious! You’ll have to share the pork chop recipe!

    • Nicole Morrissey
      Author
      December 11, 2020 / 10:04 am

      I have to remake it and photograph, yes! 🙂

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