Creamy pumpkin and ricotta stuffed jumbo shells in garlic-y sauce; this Baked Shells recipe is the ULTIMATE Fall dinner recipe!
Pasta is one of the favorites in the house. Especially stuffed and baked pasta. So jumbo shells are the go-to when it comes to pasta recipes.
This recipe of pumpkin and ricotta stuffed shells has been our Fall and Winter favorite for a while now.
These shells are creamy, cheesy and full of this delicious stuffing. The shells themselves are chewy and taste so good in the garlic sauce they are floating in!
Why should you make these?
These shells are a great main dish for dinner through Fall and Winter. Honestly, they would be great year round.
The pumpkin in the shells is less pronounced than most Fall dishes and the ricotta cheese along with sage helps make them creamy and delicious.
Stuffed shells can work perfectly as a single dish for dinner. Or serve them with some soup or bread.
If you are looking for a delicious Potluck recipe, this one fits well. All made in a casserole pan or baking tray, these shells are easy to carry and serve. I have made them for quite a few occasions already!
The recipe is pretty easy and most elements can be prepared a day before. In fact, the entire dish can be made a day before or several hours before serving. This is my favorite part for sure!
What you need to make these?
Jumbo Shells: The starting point is definitely the Shells. I used jumbo shells here. They are available at most grocery stores (though quite a few do not carry them).
These shells can be moderately filled or over filled based on how you like the pasta to filling ratio.
They have to be cooked before baking and ideally they should be cooked al-dente in salted water. Over cooking them while boiling will lead to a mushy final dish for sure.
The Filling: The shells are stuffed with a mix of ricotta cheese, pumpkin purée (I used canned), sage and spices.
Freshly grated nutmeg and sage come together beautifully in the recipe. They give the pasta a perfect earthy touch! Along with the slight sweetness of pumpkin that adds to the flavor.
Adding cheese is an option here too. I generally skip the cheese and yet the pasta tastes amazing.
The sauce: The slight sweet filling is balanced by this garlic-y sauce. Full of garlic and some spices, the sauce brings everything together.
A spin off from the traditional Béchamel sauce, this garlic-y version works well for all pasta recipes, especially the ones with squash as a component.
Bringing everything together
Once you have the three components of the recipe, it is a breeze to put it all together.
Pour the sauce in a pan or tray, arrange the stuffed shells and pour some sauce on top. Scatter some sage leaves and bake everything till the filling is cooked and the edges of the pasta are lightly golden.
Serve the pasta immediately or let it cool to room temperature and then refrigerate or freeze. They can be reheated in a preheated oven or in the air fryer with a reheat mode.
Tips to make this dish right
Ensure the pasta shells are not overcooked. Over cooking them might completely ruin the dish. Cook them in salted water so they do not taste bland after filling and baking.
Sage and nutmeg make a great combination with the garlic sauce and pumpkin. Freshly grated nutmeg does make a LOT of difference in the flavor.
Pumpkin puree can be swapped with roasted butternut squash puree too.
The easiest way to make this recipe ahead of time is to make the filling and the sauce a couple of days before. On the day of serving boil the pasta, fill and bake.
Leftovers can be refrigerated for a day or frozen for several days.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Drop the pasta shells and cook till al-dente.
Drain and set aside. Reserve some water to use later in the sauce.
In a bowl add pumpkin purée, ricotta cheese, torn sage leaves, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.
Fold the ingredients together.
In a pan heat unsalted butter. Add minced garlic and some sage leaves.
Once the garlic is fragrant add flour.
Cook till the flour changes color to light yellow.
Add milk and ¼ cup mix well. Let the sauce thicken for a few minutes.
Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Let the sauce bubble for a minute or so. Turn down the flame.
In an oven safe pan or tray add ¾ sauce.
Arrange the stuffed shells and pour the remaining sauce. Scatter some sage leaves.
Bake the pasta for 20-25 minutes till the sauce starts to bubble and the pasta has crisp edges.
Remove and serve with some toasted bread.
Pumpkin Ricotta stuffed Shells
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Drop the pasta shells and cook till al-dente.
- Drain and set aside. Reserve some water to use later in the sauce.
- In a bowl add pumpkin purée, ricotta cheese, 2-3 torn sage leaves, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ pepper and ⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg.
- Fold the ingredients together.
- In a pan heat unsalted butter. Add minced garlic and 2-3 sage leaves.
- Once the garlic is fragrant add flour and cook for a few minutes.
- Add milk and ¼ cup mix well. Let the sauce thicken for a few minutes and add the remaining nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Let the sauce bubble for a minute or so. Turn down the flame.
- In an oven safe pan or tray add ¾ sauce.
- Arrange the stuffed shells and pour the remaining sauce. Scatter a couple of sage leaves and bake the shells for 20-25 minutes till the sauce starts to bubble and the pasta has crisp edges.
- Remove and serve with some toasted bread.