Sausage and Chard Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash

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shells in a squash sauce in a cast iron skillet

Kitchens need more baked pasta this time of year, especially stuffed shells.  Warm and satisfying and easily assembled in advance so you can just slide them in the oven and curl up on the couch.  This Sausage and Chard Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash is all fall with sweet, cheesy shells of mild sausage, fresh Swiss chard, ricotta and mozzarella.  Baked in that sweet, creamy butternut squash sauce that I (and my kids) can’t get enough of.

I’m working on getting more of these types of dinners in my life.  Something comforting to mellow things out since we’ve been binge-watching the last season of Homeland.  I’m getting all kinds of stressed out watching Carrie undertake 47 life-threatening activities while also managing to look stylish in a government-employee way that I (a former government employee) secretly love.

With all the action in three seasons worth of Homeland, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eat.

cooking shells and Swiss chard in a skillet

These fictional TV characters…

Someone needs to feed them a plate of pasta.

stirring Butternut Squash Sauce in a cast iron skillet

If you’ve never made stuffed shells, you’ve got to try it.  It’s one of those kitchen activities that you sort of get into a rhythm with.  Once you’ve got the process down, it goes really fast.  And at the end you feel like a kitchen artist for having created this dish of pretty food.

I’m a fan of the plastic bag filling method pictured below (and described in the recipe) for stuffed shells. It’s a trick I’ve used before, sort of like using an icing bag to decorate a cake, and makes clean-up a breeze.

adding filling to pasta shells

Anyone else out there watching Homeland?  Every season I swear I can take the intensity but I just keep coming back for more.

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stuffed shells in a cast iron skillet
5 from 1 vote

Sausage and Chard Stuffed Shells in Butternut Squash Sauce

Stuffed shells with cheesy sausage and chard filling. All baked in a creamy butternut squash sauce for a healthy, delicious seasonal dinner.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Skillet or 9x13 Baking Dish
  • Sauce Pan
  • Saute Pan

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups Butternut Squash Sauce
  • 24 Jumbo Pasta Shells (about 12 oz)
  • 12 ounces Mild Italian Sausage
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 4 large leaves Chard, stems discarded, very finely chopped (Swiss or rainbow)
  • 4 ounces Mozzarella, grated
  • 12 ounces Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese, for serving (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread butternut squash sauce on the bottom of a large oven-safe skillet or 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • While pasta boils, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking it apart with a spatula while it cooks. Cook until golden brown and crumbled, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a large mixing bowl and return pan to heat. Add butter and, when it melts, add onions and cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes more. Add chard and cook until chard wilts, about 2 minutes (add the lid to help it cook faster). Add chard mixture to the sausage. Top with mozzarella and ricotta and stir to combine.
  • Spoon filling into a large plastic bag and seal the bag. Cut a triangle out of one of the bottom corners of the bag. Hold one pasta shell at a time in your hand and use the other hand to squeeze filling from the plastic bag into the shell. (You can also just spoon the filling into the shells if you prefer.)
  • Arrange the filled shells on top of the butternut squash sauce. Bake until the dish is warmed through and the shells are just beginning to turn golden brown on the tops, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, with parmesan cheese on top.

Notes

To freeze: This dish freezes well. Assemble the entire pasta and then cover tightly with foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature before proceeding with baking instructions.
Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
stuffed shells freezer label

Nutrition

Serving: 4g | Calories: 518kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 695mg | Potassium: 764mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 12282IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 330mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $9.00
Calories: 518
Keyword: baked pasta, fall recipe, pasta
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And behind the scenes shooting this dish.  Involves my mom’s decades-old bread board and me on a step stool.

Photo Shoot_Stuffed Shells

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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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