The freezing, rainy, damp, gloomy, winter weather has us craving hot, filling and hearty, comforting meals. I seem to need the extra calories just to warm myself up! These stuffed pasta shells with butternut squash sauce are a real tummy warmer and loved by the whole family. The pasta shells are filled with red onion, garlic, courgette, tomatoes and red pepper plus black beans for protein and fibre.
The butternut sauce is a delicious addition to keep the pasta moist and to add additional nutrition. Butternut squash is a starchy vegetable that does contain more carbohydrates than other vegetables but it is low in calories and loaded with important nutrients! It’s also rich in carotenoids, plant pigments that give butternut squash its beautiful orange colour. See the extra Nutritional Info Links at the bottom of this post.
How to prepare Stuffed Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce
First make the vegetable, bean stuffing by sautéing the red onion and garlic. Then add the other vegetables and tomato paste and cook until soft, stirring constantly. Add a little water as necessary to keep the stuffing loose as the pasta will absorb some of the liquid when baking. Add the Black beans at the very end to heat through.
Next prepare the Butternut Squash sauce by again sautéing another red onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Peel the Butternut Squash and coarsely chop. Add the Butternut Squash and cook for a few minutes. Add Vegetable stock and cook for around 20 minutes until soft. Blend in a blender until smooth.
Place the Conchiglione pasta shells into a pan of boiled water and leave for 10 minutes to soften. The pasta needs to only partially cook as they will need some firmness to allow filling with the vegetable stuffing.
All that needs to be done now is to place the Butternut sauce generously into your serving dish, stuff the Conchiglione pasta shells with the vegetable/bean filling and place into the Butternut Squash sauce. Grate some Parmesan over or cheese of your choice. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove the cover and bake for around another 10 minutes.
Can I make Stuffed Pasta Shells with Butternut Squash Sauce in Advance?
Yes. I usually make the sauce and filling in advance, up to 2 days then it’s a simple job to just prepare the pasta, fill them and bake. Assembly takes minutes and the result is an easy, healthy, filling meal.
Does this Dish Freeze well?
Yes. You can freeze the completed dish, covered for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat on a low heat for 15 minutes or until heated through.
- Vegetable Stuffing:
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large red pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 large courgettes, diced
- 4 large vine tomatoes, diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 1 cup Black beans
- 40 grams/½ cup Parmesan, grated
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Butternut Squash Sauce:
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 900 grams/2lbs Butternut Squash, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 600ml/2½ cups vegetable stock
- 25 Conchiglione pasta shells
- For the Vegetable Bean Filling: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the red onion for a couple of minutes before adding the 2 minced garlic cloves. Cook for another minute to soften the garlic.
- Add the red pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften, then add the courgette/zucchini, tomatoes and tomato puree.
- Cook for 5 minutes, allowing to simmer, covered for around 20 minutes. Check occasionally and stir, making sure the mixture does not catch or burn. The mixture should be a little wetter than usual as the Conchiglione pasta shells will absorb liquid as it bakes. Add a little water if needed. Season to taste.
- Stir in the Black beans to heat through.
- Place the Conchiglione pasta shells in a pan filled with boiled water and leave covered for 10 minutes to soften. Drain and set aside.
- Time to pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F.
- For the Butternut Squash Sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan, add the red onion and sauté for a couple of minutes before adding the minced garlic clove. Cook for another minute to soften the garlic.
- Add the Butternut Squash and cook, stiring frequently for 5 minutes.
- Add the Vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for around 20 minutes or until the Butternut Squash is softened.
- Blend until smooth, season to taste.
- Pour the Butternut Squash sauce into a suitably sized ovenproof dish.
- Fill the Conchiglione pasta shells with the Vegetable bean stuffing and place each completed shell carefully into the Butternut Squash sauce with the filled side on top.
- Sprinkle generously with Parmesan or cheese of your choice. Cheddar works well.
- Bake for around 20 minutes covered with foil. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes
- Serve with a crisp, green salad.
The recipe will serve 4, allow 5 giant conchiglione shells per person. The photo shows a dish for a 2 person serving.
If you like Butternut Squash:
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa Vegetable Stuffing
- Butternut Squash Ginger Soup
- Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese