Stuffed shells used to be one of our favorite dinners, but we haven’t eaten them in ages. The premade versions are all loaded with dairy, and making them from scratch just seemed intimidating and like too much work – especially for a weeknight.
It actually turns out that they aren’t difficult to make at all. In fact, there are just four easy steps: boil the shells, mix the filling, make the sauce (it’s easy, I promise!), and assemble/bake. Even better, you can freeze them once they’re assembled and pull them out for a quick weeknight meal any time you want to. I love to divide my batch between two pans – that way I can bake one right away and freeze the second for another time.
Traditionally, stuffed shells are filled with ricotta cheese. That obviously isn’t an option here, but butternut squash puree has a similar creamy texture and makes a nice substitute. I love adding some spinach for color and a big pinch of red pepper flakes to balance out the sweetness of the squash.
You could cover these shells with red sauce, but I love making a creamy cheese sauce with GO VEGGIE’s Vegan mozzarella shreds. The shreds melt really well and blanket the shells in a rich, cheesy sauce without the guilt associated with regular cheese.
The result is great, and I’m so excited to have stuffed shells back in my life!
How to make butternut squash stuffed shells with mozzarella sauce in four easy steps:
1) Boil the shells. For this step, just follow the directions on the package, taking care to cook them “al dente” to help prevent the shells from falling apart. The shells I used needed to boil for 9 minutes. Once the shells are cooked, immediately drain them and let cool.
2) Make the filling. While the shells cook, heat two boxes of frozen butternut squash puree with a little water. Stir in 2 cups of baby spinach until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and some crushed red pepper flakes if you like. Set aside.
3) Make the cheese sauce. Heat some oil in a medium pot. Stir in a little flour and cook for a few minutes to make a roux. This helps the cheese melt into a smooth, creamy sauce. Slowly whisk in some vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and slowly add in GO VEGGIE mozzarella shreds a little bit at a time. Let the cheese melt completely before adding more. Stir in nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
4) Assemble and Bake. Prepare the pan by pouring in just enough sauce to lightly coat the bottom. Spoon one heaping tablespoon of filling into each shell and arrange in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over the top, then sprinkle on some extra mozzarella shreds. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Get the complete recipe here.