Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Sage Béchamel
Serves 4-6 adult appetites
We have a love-hate relationship with leftovers. As the person who typically plans the weeknight meals, I really love our quick “Must Go!” nights where every leftover meal from the dinners of days past will get evicted from our fridge. I might throw together a salad for a fresh side, but meal prep on those nights is really nothing more than reheating in the microwave. The hate part of the relationship comes when we have to have more than one Must Go in a given week. To diminish the hate part, I really try to “leftover makeover” whatever is in the fridge. Roasted chicken breast might become barbeque pulled chicken pizza or I might make a burrito from a leftover burger patty by adding in a few light dashes of chili powder, cumin, paprika, and garlic and onion powders. With all the beautiful extra large squashes in our supermarket and my inability to understand that a family of three wouldn’t need an almost 2-lb butternut squash for a side dish, I had to figure out how to make uneaten, but well-loved roasted butternut squash go away.
Here’s my solution to the leftover roasted butternut squash I had in the fridge. I did make a special trip to the grocery store for the mascarpone cheese, but you can substitute with regular cream cheese. I already had sage in the refrigerator, because it’s my favorite autumn herb. The recipe will give a hint of sage in the béchamel, but if you love the flavor as much as I do, then you can certainly add more like I did in the pictures. Feel free to use whatever leftover squash you may have like pumpkin, acorn, or delicata.
You’ll need 1 package of large pasta shells, boiled to box instructions for oven baking
1 cup of shredded mozzarella (optional)
Ingredients for butternut squash filling:
3 cups of roasted butternut squash
1 8 oz container of mascarpone cheese
½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 egg yolk
½ clove of garlic
½ teaspoon salt*
¼ teaspoon pepper*
*Depending on how seasoned your roasted butternut squash already is you may need more or less.
Ingredients for sage béchamel sauce
5 tablespoons of butter
5 tablespoons of flour
1 quart of warmed whole milk
4 sage leaves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add all the ingredients for the butternut squash filling into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and combined. You may need to use a rubber spatula to ensure the mascarpone cheese is well mixed into the filling and blend once more.
- For the béchamel sauce, make a roux by melting together the butter and flour in a 1quart saucepan over medium heat. Once melted and the butter and flour have formed a paste, slowly stream in the warmed milk and simultaneously whisk to avoid lumps forming. You may need to reduce the heat to low, which may help keep lumps at bay while you whisk and stream. Once half of the milk is poured in, you can return to a medium/medium-low heat and pour the rest of the milk in and the sage leaves. Continue to whisk to break up any lumps. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Keep whisking until the consistency of the sauce will be similar to melted ice cream. You can remove the sage leaves if you prefer a clean presentation and light sage flavor. The sauce will thicken more in the oven.
- Coat a 9×13” casserole dish with the béchamel sauce. Spoon in the butternut squash filling into each of the pasta shells and place them in the casserole dish. Pour the béchamel sauce over the pasta shells until they are covered halfway with sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella, if using. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes until lightly browned. Let the stuffed shells sit for 5-10 minutes and serve.