Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce
- For the sauce:
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the filling:
- 1 pound Swiss chard
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 20-25 jumbo dried pasta shells
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a large, sharp knife, trim the ends of the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Peel with a vegetable peeler. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. On a baking sheet toss the butternut squash and onion with the olive oil, chili flakes and salt. Roast until the squash is tender, about 40 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Transfer squash to a food processor or high-speed blender. Add apple cider vinegar, chicken stock and half and half, process until smooth adding a little more stock if needed to thin if necessary. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Cook the shells according to directions in well-salted water until al dente. Drain and let cool enough to handle with your hands. Lightly oil a large baking dish or several smaller dishes.
To make the filling, combine the ricotta, egg, mozzarella, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl
Remove the stems from the Swiss chard and finely chop and slice the rest of the leaves into ribbons. Add the chard stems to a medium skillet with the tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté for a few minutes until they start to soften and then add the rest of the chard and cook until wilted. Let cool slightly before adding to the ricotta mixture.
Spread a 1/3 of the sauce across the bottom of a lightly oiled 9x13 inch baking dish or several smaller dishes. Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and arrange in a single layer in the pan. Ladle the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes, uncover for the last 15 minutes or until the shells are hot and cooked through. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.
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