Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Alfredo SauceRecipe posted in: Flex Meals & Snacks, Lunches & Dinners, Main Courses
Immerse in a culinary journey where the warmth of the autumn season meets the comforting richness of Italian cuisine. Welcome to the world of Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Alfredo Sauce, a dish that combines the earthy sweetness of butternut squash and the creamy, velvety texture of homemade Alfredo sauce.
The Heart of the Dish: Roasted Butternut Squash
This unique creation begins with the butternut squash, cubed and roasted to perfection. Roasting butternut squash caramelizes its natural sugars to bring out a deep, sweet flavor that acts as the heart of this dish.
The squash is then mixed with part-skim ricotta cheese, adding a creaminess and lightness to the stuffing that perfectly balances the robust squash flavor. A hint of lemon juice and a dash of oregano provide a tangy contrast, while parmesan cheese gives the mixture a slight sharpness and an unmistakable Italian flair.
Light and Luscious Alfredo Sauce
The Alfredo sauce, made with nonfat milk, whole wheat flour and parmesan cheese, is a lighter take on the traditional recipe, yet it loses none of the original’s lusciousness. The addition of dried sage adds an unexpected twist, lending a subtle, aromatic note that complements the overall flavor profile of the dish.
Preparing Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
The preparation of this dish is a delightful culinary journey in itself. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making this exquisite meal.
Roasting the Squash
Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating, peel your butternut squash and cut it into cubes. Toss the cubes in a bit of olive oil and black pepper, then spread them out on a baking sheet. Roast the squash for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until it’s tender and lightly caramelized.
Preparing the Stuffing
In a large bowl, combine the cooked squash with part-skim ricotta cheese, garlic, grated parmesan, a hint of lemon juice and a dash of oregano. Mash everything together until it’s well combined, then stir in thawed frozen spinach.
Stuffing the Shells
Cook jumbo pasta shells according to the package instructions. Be careful not to overcook them; you want the shells to be al dente so they hold their shape when stuffed. Once the shells have cooled enough to handle, start filling each one with the squash and cheese mixture.
Preparing the Alfredo Sauce
While you’re stuffing the shells, you can also start on the homemade Alfredo sauce. In a saucepan, melt light butter, then add in the garlic. After about a minute, stir in some whole wheat flour. This will thicken the sauce. Next, whisk in nonfat milk, parmesan cheese and dried sage for an extra layer of flavor. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth.
Baking the Dish
Pour half of the alfredo sauce in the bottom of a baking pan. Arrange the stuffed shells in the pan, then pour the remaining Alfredo sauce over the top. Bake the stuffed shells at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and slightly golden.
The result? A dish that’s a feast for both the eyes and the palate, filled with the flavors and colors of fall. This dish is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of seasonal ingredients and the joy of home cooking. Perfect for sharing with loved ones on a cozy evening, these Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Alfredo Sauce are a testament to the magic that happens when fresh, quality ingredients meet creativity and passion in the kitchen.
Customizing Your Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
Just like any recipe, you can put your own spin on these Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Alfredo Sauce. Here are some ideas to inspire your creativity.
Swap the Cheese
While ricotta and parmesan cheese are classic choices for stuffed shells, feel free to experiment with other types of cheese. Try using cottage cheese for a lighter, tangier stuffing, or add some mozzarella for extra meltiness. For a gourmet twist, try using goat cheese or Gorgonzola.
Add Some Protein
If you want to make this dish more hearty, consider adding some protein. Cooked chicken or turkey would pair well with the butternut squash. Or, for a vegetarian option, consider adding cooked lentils or chickpeas to the stuffing.
Experiment with Herbs and Spices
Though this recipe calls for oregano and sage, don’t let that limit your creativity. Fresh basil, thyme or rosemary would all be delicious additions. For a hint of heat, try adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to the stuffing or the sauce.
Try a Different Sauce
While the light Alfredo sauce complements the butternut squash nicely, you could also try a different sauce. A simple tomato sauce would add a nice acidity to balance out the sweetness of the squash. Or, for something different, try a pesto or a béchamel sauce.
The best part about cooking is making the dish your own. So feel free to experiment, tweak, and adjust to your heart’s content!
On a Nutrisystem weight loss plan? You can log each serving in the NuMi app as one SmartCarb and two PowerFuels. Check out the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for more information on counting add-ins on your plan.
Servings: 6 (1 serving = 3 stuffed shells)
Calories per Serving: 301
On Nutrisystem, Count As: 1 SmartCarb and 2 PowerFuels
- 1 ½ cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Black pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup ricotta cheese, part skim
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ tsp. oregano
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 18 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 Tbsp. light butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup nonfat milk
- 2 tsp. whole wheat flour
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp. dried sage
- Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss butternut squash in olive oil and season with black pepper.
- Roast squash in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Remove from oven and turn down heat to 350°F.
- Combine the cooked squash, ricotta, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, and parmesan cheese. Mashed ingredients together using a fork or a blender.
- Stir in the spinach and set mixture aside.
- Cook the pasta shells according to the package directions.
- Stuff the cooked pasta shells with the squash/ricotta mixture.
- Alfredo Sauce
- Melt the butter in a pot or pan and add the garlic. After 1-2 minutes, add flour and stir until thick.
- Whisk in the milk. Add in the parmesan cheese and dried sage. Cook until smooth.
- Pour half of the alfredo sauce into a baking pan. Place the stuffed shells into the pan, then pour the remaining alfredo sauce on top. Bake for 18-20 minutes.