Monday, February 2, 2015

Weekend Kitchen: Butternut, Ricotta, and Spinach Stuffed Shells with Browned Butter

Ever since seeing and pinning this recipe on Pinterest it has been calling my name.  What I liked about this recipe is that even though it's great comfort food, it wasn't too heavy.  The combination of butternut squash and ricotta makes a delicious and light filling. 
 { Recipe adapted from this one found on Mel's Kitchen Café }
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounce package jumbo pasta shells
- 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 cup frozen chopped spinach (measure before thawing)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
 - Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 10-12 fresh sage leaves
1.  Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut butternut squash into 1" cubes.  Place squash into 9 x 13 glass dish.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.  Mix to coat squash pieces.  Place in oven and roast for 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender when poked with a fork.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Use a potato masher (or fork) and mash up squash until smooth. 
2.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook shells according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
3.  Meanwhile, add ricotta, parmesan, garlic, spinach (make sure to squeeze all excess water out of spinach before using), egg, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice to squash.  Stir until combined.
4.  Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees.  Stuff shells with mixture and place in baking dish.  You may not need to use all of the shells.  Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until completely heated.
5.  While shells are in the oven, make browned butter.  Place butter in small sauce pan.  Melt and then continue to cook over a low-medium flame until butter is browned; 10-12 minutes.  Stir almost constantly so butter doesn't burn.  When butter has browned, add sage leaves.  Cook, continuing to stir, until leaves are crispy.  The butter is very hot - this won't take long!  Remove from heat and set aside until shells are finished.
6.  Remove sage leaves from butter and set aside.  Pour butter over shells.  Serve warm with additional grated parmesan, if desired.  Add sage leaves as garnish, if desired.  Enjoy!
Above is the squash, all ready to go in the oven. Below is the browned butter, just after adding the sage leaves.  Yum!
The shells, fresh out of the oven...
I served the shells with a simple side of arugula dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper.  So good! 


  1. this looks amazing, I am going to have to try it!!! I love how you combined my two favorite things, butternut squash and ricotta cheese. I would have never thought about putting those two things together to make something. I am starving now :]


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