Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Sauce and Crispy Sage

I have to say, this year I have really been in the Christmas spirit!  No joke, I am almost done buying all my Christmas presents and it's mid November.  But first things first, Thanksgiving is next week and I decided to put my leftover pie pumpkin from Halloween to good use with this dish.  I simply cut the pumpkin in half, removed the seeds and baked each half cut side down for an hour in one inch of water.  Voila! The result is fresh pumpkin that can be used immediately or frozen for future recipes.  

These vegetarian shells are a festive twist on your typical stuffed shells with marinara sauce that everyone will enjoy.  They can be served as a side dish or as a main.  I sent half to my family for dinner and brought the rest to work for lunches throughout the week!  (Pictured below is only about half the recipe).  The real star here is the crispy sage leaves sprinkled over the top as they add crunch and the extra bit of flavor needed to round out the dish.  

Be sure to keep this one in mind for upcoming holiday parties!  These stuffed shells with pumpkin sauce add an air of class to any gathering.  See you all back here soon!

Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Sauce and Crispy Sage
Recipe by Ali Caron, RD
Serves 8-10

1/2 box of jumbo shells (about 20)

Pumpkin Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt

15oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano

10 sage leaves
1/4 cup walnuts

Directions: (For fresh pumpkin puree, cut baking pumpkin in half and remove seeds.  Place cut side down in baking dish with 1 inch of water and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.  Allow to cool and scoop out pumpkin from skin with a spoon.)
1. Cook pasta to al dente according to directions in a large soup pot, about 10 minutes.  Strain and set aside.
2. Add olive oil and chopped onion to soup pot and cook on medium-low heat until translucent.  Add pumpkin and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add vegetable broth and stir.  Remove from heat and using an emersion blender (or regular blender), puree until very smooth.
3. Spray 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Spread about 1/2 cup of pumpkin sauce on bottom of dish.  Using a small spoon or ice cream scoop, fill each shell with about 1 tablespoon of ricotta filling.  Place shells in baking dish and cover with remaining pumpkin sauce.
4. Cover dish with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Meanwhile, place sage leaves and walnuts in small sauté pan and cook on low heat until fragrant and leaves are crispy.  Remove from oven and garnish with walnuts and sage.

Nutrition Facts: 235 Calories, 10g Fat, 24g Carbohydrates, 13g Protein, 3g Fiber, 439mg Sodium, 190mg Potassium

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