Taking Comfort Food to a Whole New Level!
Italian Pasta Shells Stuffed with Fresh Ricotta Cheese, Smoked Mozzarella, Roasted Pumpkin, Fresh Spinach, Shiitake Mushrooms in a Creamy Lightened-Up Alfredo Sauce. Delizioso!
- 1 medium, about 2 1/2 pound sugar pumpkin*
- 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ⅓ cup shallots, peeled and chopped small
- 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 very large caps shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, small chop
- 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
- ½ pound fresh spinach, large leaves, cleaned and dried
- ¾ cup parmegiano reggiano, grated, divided
- ¾ cup smoked mozzarella, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
- ⅛ teaspoon fresh nutmeg, finely grated
- good pinch of each sea salt & pepper
- 12 ounces dried pasta shells (about 25)
- 1 recipe Karen’s Lightened-Up Alfredo Sauce, (see recipe)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half vertically, scoop out the seeds (discard, or clean and use for toasting.)
Slice each half into 6 even slices, about 1 1/2” wide; 12 in total. Place on a rimmed baking pan, rub with 1 teaspoon neutral oil and a pinch of sea salt.
Cook until golden for 25 minutes, turning once. Cool. The pumpkin skins will peel off easily. Chop the flesh 1/2” cubes; will have about 4 cups cooked. Use 2 cups for this recipe and the remainder for another.
Cook Pasta Shells in plenty of lightly salted water, drain and set aside. I’ve used Lumaconi Giganti Pasta Shells – snail-shaped shells.
About 25 shells total.
Add 2 teaspoons olive oil in a 10” skillet, raise heat to medium-low. Add shallots and gallic, sauté for one minute. Add shiitake mushrooms, stir, raise heat to medium.
Cook, stirring until mushrooms become golden around the edges. Add this mixture to a medium sized bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to the skillet, rise heat to medium add half of spinach and sauté until just limp. Add the remaining spinach, cook until limp, stirring. Add to bowl. To the bowl add ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, and smoked mozzarella (I do not use an egg.)
Add 1 cup of cubed cooked pumpkin, mash with a fork to break up into the filling. Fold in remaining pumpkin cubes.
Add sage, nutmeg salt and pepper, mix in.
Fill and Cook Pasta Shells:
Preheat oben to 350 degrees.
Pour Karen’s Lightened-Up Alfredo Sauce on the bottom of a heavy 9” x 13” baking pan.(I use an enamel coated cast iron one.)
Pick up a pasta shell in you hand. Fill tightly with the Pumpkin, Ricotta, Mushroom and Spinach filling, using a small spoon; about 2 1/2 tablespoons.
Place the filled shell over the sauce in the pan. Continue with all the shells, packing tightly.
Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup parmegiano reggiano on top. Cover tightly with foil and bake until bubbly and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes to crisp slightly.
*Sugar Pumpkins are a small, round pumpkin that’s packed full of flesh that makes it a good choice for cooking.
Serve and enjoy!
See BLOG for many more photos and information.
This recipe may not be reproduced without the consent of its author, Karen Sheer.
Serves about 8 – 3 shells per serving.