Who does not like stuffed shells? It is one of my favorite dishes. I also love roasted butternut squash, so today, we combine the two and make Roasted Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells. I, for one, am super excited about this recipe. It is a perfect recipe for fall with its beautiful color and comforting taste.
Butternut Squash is a wonderful vegetable to add to your fall and winter dishes. It is a great source of Vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. It’s also high in disease-fighting antioxidants and low in calories.
Picking a Ripe Butternut Squash:
You want to make sure the Butternut Squash is ripe, has no green spots, is hard to the touch, and is not glossy but has a mat and even color. It is best if the stem is still intact, as a missing stem could indicate that it is past its prime. The stem should be dark brown. And finally, it should be heavy for its size.
Roasting the Butternut Squash:
The reason for roasting the butternut squash is to mellow the flavor. The roasting process caramelizes the natural sugars, which gives it an amazing depth of flavor. And the best part of all is that it is super easy to do. Just peel the squash with a potato peeler, cut it in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into even bite-size pieces, place it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Next, spray with a little oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes, until the butternut squash is fork-tender.
We are so fortunate today that we have options for excellent pasta choices. If you are gluten-free, there is a brown rice gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada) that is excellent. It is also a great choice for those that want whole grain pasta. Make sure to pick Jumbo or Grand pasta shells for this recipe. Precook pasta according to package instructions.
Vegan RICOTTA Cheese Filling
I use a blend of cashews and tofu for this vegan ricotta filling. Cashews are incredibly easy to blend, creamy, and provide an excellent flavor canvas when mixed with tofu. Almonds are a little grainier, though very nice in flavor. Some people use macadamia nuts, which also works nicely, but I find that cashews work best for this dish.
I presoak the cashews for many hours before making the vegan ricotta filling. This makes them easier to blend, and it also takes away some of the natural sweetness that cashews have. Since I often make recipes with presoaked cashews, I usually have some in the fridge soaking. Sometimes they can soak for 2-3 days before I get to them. I change the water daily, which also helps get rid of the cashew taste.
If you do not have time for the presoak, place the cashews in boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes or so. I will boil the cashews for a few minutes if I am particularly busy, which probably goes against all conventional wisdom, but hey, it works; I’ve done it.
Sage and butternut squash is a match made in heaven. It is a beautiful flavor combination and works well as a garnish. I like to add fresh sage leaves for garnish.
I hope you enjoy this Roasted Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells recipe. It has to be one of my favorite recipes. I love the roasted butternut squash’s slightly sweet and caramelized flavor, mixed with pasta and vegan ricotta filling. It is a winner.Print
Roasted Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells | Plant-Based, Vegan
- 1 box of Jumbo Pasta Shells, (for a gluten-free option: Brown Rice Pasta Shells)
Butternut Squash Sauce:
- 3 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small chunks
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2–1 teaspoon fresh sage (2–3 sage leaves)
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 1 teaspoons salt or salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon margarine (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon better-than-bouillon (vegetable base)
Vegan Ricotta Filling:
- 1 cup presoaked cashews, drained
- 1 cup (8 oz) firm tofu, drained
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2–3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- Precook the pasta shells.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sprinkle generously with salt.
- Add pasta shells. Cook according to box instructions (usually about 10 minutes)
- Remove from boiling water, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.
- Drain. Set aside to cool.
- Optional: Add a small amount of oil to the pasta shells to prevent them from sticking together.
Butternut Squash Sauce:
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Peel the squash with a potato peeler, cut it in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into even bite-size pieces, place it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Next, spray with a little oil and sprinkle with a little salt.
- Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes, until the butternut squash is fork-tender.
- In a pan sauté onion, garlic, fresh sage, and red pepper flakes over medium heat. Cook until onions are translucent.
- Transfer the onion mixture to a blender. Add the roasted butternut squash and the rest of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth.
Vegan Ricotta Filling:
- In a food processor, add cashews, tofu, lemon juice, olive oil, and blend. Add salt, Bragg Liquid Aminos, nutritional yeast, and blend until smooth.
- In a small saucepan, sauté the onion in oil until translucent, add the crushed garlic, and fresh spinach. Sauté until the spinach has wilted. Set aside to cool.
- Gently mix the cashew/tofu mixture with the onion/spinach mixture. The filling is now ready.
Assembling the Dish:
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In an 9X9 inch pan, add a layer of butternut squash sauce.
- Next, fill the pasta shell with 1-2 tablespoons of ricotta filling.
- Place in the pan.
- Continue this process with all the shells.
- Cover each shell with a layer of pasta sauce. (Use leftover sauce to pour over shells when serving)
- Sprinkle with vegan parmesan if desired (Click Here for My Recipe).
- Bake for about 30 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh sage leaves.