Ease into fall with this pumpkin twist on classic stuffed shells | TribLIVE.com
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Everybody Craves | Meghan Rodgers

The best thing about fall?

The food, of course!

While summer is the season for fresh fruit and farmers markets, fall is time for casseroles, slow cookers and delicious comfort foods.

Which takes me to my latest recipe …

We had two days of fall-like weather last week and already I’m inspired to break out the pumpkin.

These pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells would be a perfect addition to your holiday spread, or anytime you want a savory, seasonal dish to share — this recipe makes a lot of shells. The fresh sage and nutty Romano cheese are the perfect way to accent that rich pumpkin flavor. Plus, the light pumpkin taste in the sauce makes this dish truly something different. You’re going to love this seasonal switch-up on an old classic.

Note: Get 100% pumpkin puree (I like Libby’s brand). Other pumpkin blends can sometimes come with fall spices mixed in — definitely not something we want smothered in marinara.

Pumpkin and Sage Stuffed Shells


For the shells:

1 (12-ounce) box of 40 shells

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin puree

2 ½ cups whole milk ricotta

1 egg white

1 cup grated Romano cheese

1 teaspoon black pepper

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chicken broth

1 ½ cups crushed San Marzano tomatoes

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree

¼ cup grated Romano cheese

1 ½ tbsp fresh sage, minced

1 teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

Plus: ¼ cup Romano cheese and 1 sprig fresh sage for topping at the end


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook shells according to package. Drain. Drizzle with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and lightly toss to coat. Arrange shells on a baking sheet to cool. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, add pumpkin, ricotta, egg white, 34 cup Romano cheese, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper. Mix until fully combined. Set aside.

To make the marinara, drizzle olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Pour in chicken broth, then add crushed tomatoes, pumpkin, Romano, sage, basil, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. (Take this time to stuff your shells with the cheese/pumpkin mixture.)

Using a pastry bag or a spoon, fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of cheese filling. Return to baking sheet.

When marinara is done simmering, pour ½ of it into the bottom of each of two 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dishes. Divide shells evenly between the two dishes.

Cover dishes with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Remove shells and let stand for about 5 minutes before topping with additional sprinkling of Romano cheese and a few fresh sage leaves.

Serve immediately, but leftovers are wonderful, too.

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