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Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

Giant pasta shells (conchiglioni) stuffed with butternut squash, kale and ricotta. Baked in a tasty tomato sauce and topped with creamy mozzarella. These butternut squash stuffed shells are truly delicious.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Fusion, Italian
Diet Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 521kcal


For The Sauce

  • 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks of celery finely chopped
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press or finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 x 400g (2 x 14.5 oz) cans of chopped (diced) tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For The Stuffed Shells

  • ½ a large butternut squash peeled and cut into bitesize chunks
  • 100 g (4 cups) kale shredded and woody stems removed
  • 250 g ( 1 cup) ricotta
  • 45 g (½ a cup) vegetarian parmesan finely grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press or finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon chopped thyme leaves divided into 1 teaspoon and ¼ teaspoon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • teaspoon olive oil divided into 1 teaspoon and ½ a teaspoon
  • 21 large pasta shells (conghiglioni)
  • 1 125g ball of (1 x 8 oz) of fresh mozzarella


To Make The Filling

  • Heat the oven to 180°C /355°F fan or 200°C/390°F conventional oven
    Place the chunks of butternut squash on a baking tray. Add a pinch of chopped thyme some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over the butternut squash and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the squash is cooked.
    Meanwhile, make the sauce.
  • Heat a teaspoon of olive oil to a large frying pan.
    Add the washed kale and cook until wilted.
    Once cooked chop the kale finely and leave to cool.
  • Add the ricotta, vegetarian parmesan and garlic to a large bowl.
    Add the kale, the roasted butternut squash, 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary and 1 teaspoon of chopped thyme leaves to the bowl.
    Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
    It's ok if some of the butternut squash chunks are mashed into the cheese.
  • Cook the pasta shells in a large pan of salted water.
    Cook to the packet instruction minus a minute or two. The pasta should not be cooked fully it will cook when in the oven.
    Retain 2 tablespoons of the pasta water.
    Drain the pasta shells in a colander and then rinse the shell under the cold tap.

To Make The Sauce

  • Heat 1 and a half tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan.
    Add the chopped onion, celery and carrot along with a pinch of salt.
    Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often.
    Once the onion has softened add the 2 cloves of garlic that have been put through a garlic press. Add 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, stir well and cook for a minute.
    Pour in 2 cans of chopped (diced) tomatoes.
    Add ½ of sea salt and ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
    Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes stirring often.
    Blend the sauce with a hand-held blender once the vegetables are soft and the sauce is nice and thick.
    If you find the sauce is too thick add a splash of water.

To Assemble The Pasta Shells

  • Stir the pasta water into the sauce.
    If you are using a casserole dish pour the sauce into the dish now.
    Take a teaspoon or two of the mixture and stuff it into one shell.
    Place the shell onto the sauce.
    Repeat until you have filled all the shells.
  • Grate the mozzarella over the shells.
    Place the pan or casserole dish in the oven, on the middle shelf, and bake at 180°C /355°F fan or 200°C/390°F conventional oven for about 15 - 20 minutes.
    I sometimes pop the pan under the grill (broiler) for the last 5 minutes.
    Leave to cool slightly before serving.


  • Pasta - Don't over cook the pasta! The pasta will cook in the sauce. I always add a couple of extra shells too just in case any break.
  • Rinse - Rinse the pasta in cold water. Doing this will stop the pasta from cooking and it will be kinder on your hands when you are filling the shells!
  • The sauce - Blend the sauce, it can be quite chunky so I like to blend it before I add the stuffed shells. But it's up to you, I sometimes serve the sauce as is and it stills goes down a treat.
  • Grill it - I like to finish this dish under the grill (broiler) for a couple of minutes. Doing this will give you a lovely crispy topping. You don't have to do this but I recommend it!
  • Pan - My pan is very large, it measures 28cm/11 inches in diameter and is 7cm/3 inches deep. 
  • Freezing/Making Ahead/Leftovers - This dish can be frozen, freeze it before you cook it and thaw it overnight in the fridge before you cook it. You can make the entire dish 2 days in advance, just keep it refrigerated. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and should be eaten within two days. Reheat in the oven or microwave until piping hot.
  • Nutritional Information - Nutritional information is calculated using an online nutrition tool and is approximate. It is based on one serving of 4.
  • Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible for best results.


Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 61.3g | Protein: 23.3g | Fat: 21.2g | Saturated Fat: 7.2g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 638mg | Potassium: 23.3mg | Fiber: 7.7g | Sugar: 11.7g | Calcium: 452mg | Iron: 4mg