One of the best things about fall being in full swing is the multitude of squash options that become available to spice up our recipe repertoire as the weather gets cooler. Of course, there’s pumpkin everything out there, but there are so many other options that don’t get nearly the same amount of love and attention. Some of my favorites include acorn, butternut, honey nut, delicata and spaghetti squash, but I’m always seeing new varieties.
Not only is squash delicious, it’s also extremely versatile – it’s delicious in soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, curries, salads, and beyond. Squash is also really nutritious as it’s full of fiber, potassium, and vitamin A.
Honeynut and Delicata Squash
If you’re wondering what makes a winter squash different from a summer squash (think zucchini, yellow squash, etc), it’s really about the maturity at which the squash is picked. When winter squash is picked, the weather is cooler, the seeds have had time to fully develop (in most cases they are removed), and the skin is tough (and often peeled). Most of the time, winter squash is cooked before being eaten, whereas summer squash, can be eaten raw, the skin is much more delicate (often not peeled) and the seeds are soft, small, and also easily consumed. While winter squash is grown during the summer months, and harvested in the fall, its heartiness makes it able to last several months – into winter, which explains the name!
While I absolutely love the simplicity of roasted, seasoned squash, I recently got inspired and took my squash cookery to the next level with my Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells. This is a perfect/winter recipe as they do take some time to make. It’s a great way to spend a chilly afternoon, and the results are an absolutely delicious, creamy, hearty pasta dish that will most definitely make your list of fall comfort foods.
Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Inactive Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
For the roasted butternut squash:
1 butternut squash
3 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
TCB Kosher Salt and pepper, to taste
For the pasta:
24 jumbo pasta shells
For the butternut squash cream sauce:
1-1.5 cups roasted, pureed butternut squash
2 Tablespoons grapseed oil
1 small onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-2.5 cups milk (depending on desired consistency)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
TCB Kosher Salt and pepper
For the filling:
16 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1.5 cups diced, roasted butternut squash
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
TCB Kosher Salt and pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and set a pot of water to boil on the stove.2. Prepare your butternut squash. This can be intimidating to some, so here’s how I tackle this:
- Cut a half inch slice from the top and bottom off your squash so the ends are flat.
- Peel the squash.
- Cut the squash in half from pole to pole by standing it up and remove the seeds (I use a spoon).
- Separate the neck and bulb of the squash.
- Dice the solid, more narrow, neck of your squash.
3. Season the diced squash and the two halves of the bulb with grapeseed oil, salt, and pepper.
4. Roast squash on a sheet tray for 30-60 minutes until fork tender. Check the squash at 30 minutes. The diced squash will be done before the bulbs. Set the diced squash aside in a bowl. Let the bulb continue to roast until fork tender.
5. While the squash cooks, boil your pasta shells according to the package (about 8 minutes).
6. Drain the shells and set aside.
7. When the bulbs are done roasting, place them in a food processor (or mash by hand) until smooth.
8. In a skillet over medium heat, add 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil and sauté onion until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the garlic, and sauté for one minute, until fragrant. Add the butternut squash puree (about 1-1.5 cups), heavy cream, milk, and sage to the pan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the Parmesan cheese, stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce 5-10 minutes until desired sauce consistency.
9. Add 1/2 cup of sauce to the bottom of an 11 x 13 baking dish.
10. In a medium bowl, add diced squash, ricotta, egg, basil, parsley, parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, but don’t overmix. You want to leave some of the squash pieces whole and see the color contrast in the mixture.
11. Add 2-3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture to each shell and place shells on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
12. Top shells with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with mozzarella, asiago, provolone and Parmesan cheeses.
13. Bake covered at 350 for 25 minutes (I like to spray the foil with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick to the cheese). Turn the oven up to 400 and cook for 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.
13. Top with Parmesan, fresh basil, and enjoy.
If you’re ready to make these butternut squash stuffed shells but you find yourself needing grapeseed oil, TCB kosher salt, a baking dish, sheet pan or a new knife to get to work on that butternut squash, email us your order to firstname.lastname@example.org for curbside pickup on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday from 3pm-5pm.
Also, be sure to check out our virtual class dedicated to squash: How to Cook Winter Squash on Thursday, October 29 at 6pm CST where our chef will demonstrate how to make Roasted Winter Squash Salad with Farro, Baby Kale, and Maple Cider Vinaigrette and Butternut Squash Bisque with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Toasted Pecans and Pecorino.
We’ve also started offering a delicious grain bowl for pick up on Tuesdays from Lincoln Square (today’s includes butternut squash!) You can make a meal of it on its own, or order some incredible and sustainable fish from Hooked on Fish and pick them up together for a delicious and healthy meal. Click here to order your grain bowl for next week!
Or, you can enjoy the fall weather and have us cook for you in our socially distant outdoor patio classes. We’ve got just a few seats left in Date Night on the Patio on Saturday, October 31 at 5pm, Fireside Feast on Friday, November 6 at 6pm, New Orleans Brunch on the Grill on Saturday, November 7 at 11am and Steakhouse on the Patio on Saturday, November 7 at 5pm.