21 September 2011

Pumpkin and Herbed Ricotta Stuffed Shells

perfect for a centerpiece or a jack o' lantern

Pumpkin Season is upon us and I am chock full of ideas for the next few dinners, desserts, and snacks - all incorporating pumpkin mash, pumpkin cubes, and/or pumpkin seeds. Of course, I'm NOT going to overload poor SB day after day with pumpkin dishes, but we'll certainly get our fill in the next few weeks.

because only a masochist with a machete chops, stews, and mashes their own pumpkin

Tonight, I'm in the mood for pasta, so I'm making these little stuffed shells that have a pumpkin/ricotta cheese /herb filling. I halved the recipe so that we don't have them sitting in the fridge for more than a day. That way, I can make more pumpkin-y things and not have SB crabbing at me. The recipe reflects enough stuffing for twelve shells - dinner and a lunch of leftovers. Perfect for two people...

lined pasta in a lined bowl

Some folks may bridle at this recipe, as it uses a bottle of prepared tomato sauce ... but I happen to like the consistency of the sauce and it is plain. It doesn't overshadow the pumpkin filling in the shells. What can I say? I like it! You can make your own homemade sauce if you like. Actually, you can play with this recipe a lot! Change up some of the herbs, play with different cheeses, add small bits of meat to the sauce or the filling ... I think this type of shell recipe is extremely versatile.

Here's my take.

lunchtime leftovers that were still really yummy!

Pumpkin and Herbed Ricotta Stuffed Shells


12 - 16 jumbo shells, boiled in salted water to al dente stage, drained and drizzled with a bit of olive oil
12 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. mashed cooked pumpkin (use the canned stuff)
1 egg
½ c. Romano cheese, grated plus ½ c. more for sprinkling atop the final dish before baking
2 scallions, greens sliced into thin rings and white ends reserved for another use
2 tsp. fresh sage leaves, minced
¼ c. chopped basil leaves
¼ tsp. black pepper
¾ tsp. kosher salt
8 crackers (I used Ritz), smashed to crumbs
1- 26 oz. bottle of prepared Italian pasta sauce (I use a traditional tomato basil concoction by Bertolli)

Making the Dish:

1. Get a big stockpot of salted water boiling and then add 14 - 16 jumbo shells to the water. I always add more because nothing is more annoying than getting the shells made and finding that some have split ... pet peeve, what can I say?

2. While the water is coming to a boil, make the filling. Combine the ricotta, egg, pumpkin,  ½ c. of the Romano cheese, the scallions, sage, basil, kosher salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Stir it up and add enough cracker crumbs to absorb the watery juices that 'come out' of the filling after it sits a few minutes.

3. Pour the Italian pasta sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch casserole and have it ready, at your work station.

4. When the shells are al dente, drain them and gently turn them back into the pan. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and slosh them gently to coat them with the oil. Cool them until you can handle them.

5. Place about 2 to 3 tbsp. filling in each of the shells and place them into the sauce in rows of three.

6. Sprinkle the filled shells and sauce with the second ½ c. of Romano cheese (or a bit more if you're a cheesehound!).

7. Cover the pan with foil and bake the shells for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and brown the tops for about ten more minutes ... broil them a bit if they're not browning, BUT watch them.

8. Serve with a nice cool green salad and some chilled Pinot Grigio ... enjoy!


  1. This sounds yummy. I like the Ritz Cracker idea for absorbing some of the watery filling. This time of year is so much fun. I love all the pumpkin and apple recipes that are floating around.

  2. Can I come to dinner? Sounds wonderful!!!

  3. The comfort foods are here to stay. I haven't made my first pumpkin recipe yet this year, but do have all of the ingredients for soup tomorrow, but now pasta is on my mind.

  4. This is comfort food at its finest! I can't wait to cook with pumpkin!

  5. Susan, this sounds really good. I have been wanting to make something with pumpkin since the temperature finally dropped below 80 here. I have been away from your blog for way too long...thank you for the inspiration!

  6. I am totally in a pumpkin cooking/baking zone and I love that you stuffed them with ricotta into these shells! I really can't think of a more delicious stuffing.

  7. :(..i'm a masochist..because here in Italy we can't find any smashed pumpkins canned!!! Hugs and nice to meet you, Flavia

  8. I love pumpkin recipes! This one is so creative and delicious - nicely done!

  9. What a great addition to stuffed shells...sounds delicious!

  10. Susan! I made this into lasagna and it was heavenly! My favorite lasagna ever. Thanks for such a great recipe :)

  11. It's so much fun to come back to the blogosphere after having been away and see what our favorite bloggers have been up to. We've been casting around for some new fall recipes to enjoy and this looks like it hits the spot. Looks bsolutely delicious, can't wait to try it!


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