Stuffed Shells Two Ways

Saturday was family dinner night and to stick with my cookbook mission, I made a recipe inspired by, guess who, Ray Ray! The menu was stuffed shells two ways. Truly, I just wanted to do a butternut squash sauce, but I figured I could please the crowed with an easy italian sausage marinara sauce, too. Though these took for-ev-er to make for a group of ten, they were super delicious. It's like a neater lasagna. Which makes me think this butternut squash sauce would make a ridiculously good lasagna... Hmmm...

Thanks for inspiration Ray Ray! I also took a cue from Gourmet for the butternut squash sauce. But I changed that up, too. I'm not one for following instructions.

There are three components to this - the shells, the sausage marinara, and the butternut squash sauce.

One: The Shells


  • One box of shells
  • 2 cups fat free ricotta
  • 2/3 c. shredded parmesan
  • 1/3 c. grated romano
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients.
  • Set in the fridge for about one hour before you start stuffing shells so that the spices have some time to soak in to the cheese
  • Cook shells according to box instructions -  you want them just short of al dente since you will be finishing them in the oven. Nobody likes mushy pasta.
  • When the pasta is done cooking, drain and dump on to a baking sheet to cool.
  • Once they are cool enough to handle, stuff each shell with 2 tbsp of ricotta mixture
  • Arrange in a 9x13 baking dish and wait patiently for sauce
  • Pour sauce over shells - be generous - and make sure to get the edges so pasta doesn't dry out
  • Bake uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes or until bubbly

nutmeg looks like brains!

Sausage Marinara

  • One package of your favorite italian sausage - I like hot turkey, but sweet or any other meat tastes great too
  • Two 28 oz. cans marinara sauce from trader joes. No corner cutting, people. :)
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 c. red wine - 3/4 c for drinking while cooking, 1/4 c. for actual cooking
  •  In a large, deep frying pan, brown sausage 
  • Dump in marinara sauce, reduce heat to simmer
  • Add in italian seasoning and red wine
  • Simmer and stir occasionally for 10 minutes
  • Great on pasta, lasagna, stuffed shells, with italian sandwiches, over eggs, over garlic bread, etc.
 I was too busy stuffing shells to take pics, but picture yumminess in your head.

Butternut Squash Sage Sauce

  • 1 lb butternut squash, roughly chopped and finely diced by food processor
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped italian parsley
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • pepper to taste
  • Heat oil over medium high heat
  • Saute onions until soft and starting to get brown
  • Dump in squash, and water, cover and reduce heat to medium
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until squash is fully cooked
  • Either using a blender or batches in a food processor, puree 3/4 of the squash onion mixture. If you don't want texture, puree it all. I like texture.
  • Reduce heat to low, stir in herbs, parm, and pepper to taste
  • SOOOOOOO good.

 I am going to go eat another round of these shells for leftovers now :)

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