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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Lemony Sage Butter Sauce

Oct 25, 2017 11:00AM ● By Lana Granfors

What's Cookin'

By Lana Granfors
Photo by James Mazzotta
November 2017

You may recall the enchilada recipe in this year’s May issue – made using pasta shells. Well, I received rave reviews from readers and actually had a couple of you ask what other ideas I might have for using shells. The shells are great for other dinner ideas, and in this recipe, ravioli! I guess you might call them “open faced ravioli.”

This recipe calls for butternut squash, but you could easily use sweet potatoes. This makes a great main course, would be a perfect addition for a buffet or a side dish to your holiday meal.  I think the lemon zest and lemony butter sauce are key, adding bright flavor and finish to this dish.   Enjoy!


1 large or 2 medium butternut squash

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

12 jumbo pasta shells

2 cup ricotta cheese

1⁄3 cup parmesan cheese, plus an additional 1⁄4 cup for topping

1 T minced garlic

1⁄2 cup frozen chopped spinach (thawed, squeezed and all liquid drained)

1 egg

Zest of one lemon

1 stick butter 

10 fresh sage leaves

Juice of 1 lemon


STEP 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Drizzle flesh with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place squash, flesh sides down, on a baking sheet and roast for 15–20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Once ready, remove and allow them to cool. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees

STEP 2: While the squash is baking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add shells and cook for 9 minutes.  While the shells cook, spray a baking dish with a nonstick spray and prepare a large bowl of iced water. Once shells are cooked, drain with slotted spoon and place in the bowl of iced water to chill. Once chilled, drain and place the shells in the baking dish. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and set aside. 

STEP 3: In a large bowl, add ricotta, parmesan cheese, minced garlic, spinach (remember to squeeze out the liquid and drain), and the egg.  Season with a little salt and pepper and mix lightly. Scrape all the cooled squash from their skins into a separate bowl and mash until the squash is no longer chunky. Add mashed squash (about 2 cups) to the ricotta mixture along with lemon zest and mix completely.  

STEP 4: Stuff the shells with equal parts of the mixture and place each one back into the prepared baking dish..  

STEP 5: Place your filled shells in the oven and allow the shells to heat through, around 20–25 minutes. 

STEP 6: While the shells warm through, make the butter sauce by melting the stick of butter in a saute pan until golden brown and bubbly. Add the sage leaves and fry, turning them once, until slightly crisp. Turn off heat and add the fresh lemon juice.

STEP 7: Spoon the warm, lemony sage butter sauce all over the filled shells and top with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 35-45 minutes

Total Time: 50-60 minutes