Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eat: Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta

While the dish was great, this photo is not. For that, I apologize.

This delicious dish, Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta Shells with Thyme Butter Sauce, was the result of an impulse buy. Matt and I had just finished up a brunch date with his mom when we decided to mosey over to the next-door produce stand. I was in need of a pumpkin for the front porch and it offered an impressive selection.

We felt like such hip, locally-conscience urbanites shopping at the little stand that we began roaming the aisle trying to decide what other produce we could plausibly need after a recent trip to the grocery store. We both stopped in front of the butternut squash box and knew we'd found our treasure. Before we made it to the check-out counter, I had already chosen this recipe from my mental list of Pinterest Finds To Try.

The dish had a very long preparation and (honestly) was poorly selected as a workday meal. Fortunately, Matt can tell when I'm getting overwhelmed and the wheels are about to come off. He graciously jumped in, helped out, and by 7pm we were digging in to some extremely tasty pasta. The texture of the filling is smooth and creamy, with a subtle sweetness. Usually after conquering an involved recipe, I rarely think I will repeat it--mainly because I enjoy attempting new recipes. However, this was so good that I fully intend to make it again, although probably as a lasagna for faster assembly.

I modified the original recipe a fair amount, and I strongly suggest you follow my ingredient list!

Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta Shells with Thyme Butter Sauce

Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped (4 cups)
Jumbo pasta shells (roughly 20, depending on how stuffed you want them to be)
16 oz Ricotta
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup frozen spinach, drained
1 egg
Salt & pepper, to taste

Toss the squash in some olive oil and spread the pieces out in a large baking pan. Roast for 15-20 minutes at 425°F.

Utilize this time to cook the pasta shells according to the package’s directions.

Once the squash has roasted, you should be able to easily smash it with a fork. If not, continue cooking in the oven for a few minutes at a time, checking it regularly. In a large bowl combine the smashed squash, Ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, spinach, egg, salt, and pepper.

Wait until the pasta shells are cool enough to touch, then stuff each with heaping spoonfuls of the filling. This is a great time to call in the family for assistance.

After putting the shells in a greased baking pan, bake for roughly 10 minutes at 350°F.

NOTE: The original recipe calls for 20 minutes at 400°F. Don’t do this! I followed the instructions and regretted it; a few of the pasta shells were overcooked and crunchy. Gross.

To prepare the sauce, melt 1 stick of butter in a small pan, then add thyme to taste. Drizzle this sparingly over the pasta. If desired, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

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