Entrees (Vegetarian)

Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin and Ricotta

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Would you ever think to add pumpkin to ricotta shells?  It’s random, right? But of course, as we know, this time of year pumpkin shows up in just about everything (I have a post about this very topic coming up soon…..talk about some major “health halos”!).  You might think that pumpkin-stuffed shells are a healthy entree, but, really, it’s just a little extra vitamin A and other antioxidants, but overall not much.  That being said, I still love pumpkin and love this recipe (and highly recommend it for your next dinner party).  This recipe was so easy, even Nick could prepare it (Zingggg!!!). Sure, there were a lot of steps that took some time, such as stuffing the shells, but come on, the end product was worth it.  The one thing I might change about this recipe is the amount of sauce. I wanted more, and Nick agreed. Maybe just save a bit to serve on top of the finished product once it’s on your plate? I dunno, I’m just a huge fan of red sauce, especially when it’s free of onion and garlic, and still tastes authentic and delicious (that would be the Rao’s Sensitive Formula Sauce).

Do you ever have recipes that suggest putting the shells open-face down? I have seen recipes like that before. This one didn’t say so we made them open-face up.

Stuffed Pumpkin Ricotta Shells

Ingredients

  • 24 Jumbo Pasta Shells **
  • 1 tablespoon(s) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 22 ounce(s) (2½ cups) Fat-Free Ricotta **
  • 1 can(s) (15-ounce) pumpkin puree
  • 2½ ounce(s) Pecorino Romano, grated (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 large Egg White
  • 2 clove(s) Garlic, minced **
  • 1 cup(s) Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon(s) Finely Chopped Fresh Sage
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1 jar(s) (26-ounce) Store-Bought Tomato Sauce **

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta shells according to package instructions; drain. Transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, pumpkin, ¾ cup pecorino Romano, and remaining ingredients, except tomato sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread sauce in bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 3 tablespoons ricotta-pumpkin mixture and arrange in pan, open-face up. Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove foil, sprinkle shells with remaining pecorino, and bake for 15 minutes more. (If desired, stuff shells the night before and refrigerate overnight in an airtight container, in between layers of plastic wrap; arrange shells on sauce right before baking.)

Notes

** If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, be aware that the shells contain wheat (unless you buy a gluten or wheat-free variety) and thus contain FODMAPs. However, most people should be able to handle 1-2 shells in a sitting. Also, if you are lactose intolerant you may want to use the Lactaid brand of cottage cheese instead of ricotta (make sure to strain the cottage cheese first). The romano contains lactose, but very little. Also, omit the garlic and use a garlic-infused olive oil to replace the flavor. Lastly, use Rao’s Sensitive Formula sauce for the tomato sauce, or make your own (see my tomato sauce recipe on my low FODMAPs page)

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 3 shells Calories: 321 Fat: 9 g Carbohydrates: 45 g Sodium: 977 mg Fiber: 6 g Protein: 22 g Cholesterol: 19 mg

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 350 calories (not bad for such an amazing dish!), and an excellent source of fiber.  If you’re worried about the sodium (it’s high….) omit the added salt.  There should be plenty of salt in the cheese, shells, and sauce, who needs more?  When I make this again, I will omit the salt, for sure.

We topped the shells with some dried basil, for a nice photo.  The dried basil was actually a pleasant surprise (delicious).  I hope you make these and enjoy them as much as we did!  And before you leave today, don’t forget to check out my Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo Goodie Bag giveaway.  Check out all this loot!!  Have a great Tuesday everyone.

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