Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Recipe: Pumpkin Patch Stuffed Shells

I have a serious weeknes for a fall magazine. God forbid there is a long line at the market and I get stuck looking at every magazine out. Well that did happen a week ago and I came home with about 4. Everyday with Rachel Ray, which I don't really buy a lot, caught my eye with this yummy recipe.  It was such a great amount of fall flavors! You could also use sausage instead of ground beef (I will definitely try that next time). I also recommend doubling the sauce recipe (another thing I will do next time) if you like it really saucy.  Enjoy on a beautiful fall evening with late summer tomatoes, so good!


  • Salt and pepper
  • EVOO
  • 20 jumbo pasta
  • 1 lb. baby spinach
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
  • Parsley leaves


  1. Add 2 tsp. salt, a splash EVOO and 20 jumbo pasta shells to a large pot of boiling water. Cook according to package directions. Drain and rinse until cool. Cover with damp paper towels.
  2. 1 inch water to a boil in the same pot. Add half of 1 lb. baby spinach. Let wilt before adding the rest; stir to wilt. Rinse with cold water; squeeze to get the spinach as dry as possible.
  3. Place the spinach on a cutting board and chop with a bench scraper. (Or, if you don’t have a bench scraper, let an adult chop with a chef’s knife.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter. Add 1 large onion, chopped; add 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add 1 lb. extra-lean ground beef; cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped spinach until well mixed. Stir in 1/3 cup shredded cheddar. Let cool.
  7. Heat 2 cups milk in a microwave. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp. butter. Whisk in 1/4 cup flour; cook 1 minute. Whisk in 1/2 cup hot milk, then the rest. When it boils, whisk 1 minute.
  8. Remove from the heat; season with 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk in 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheddar. Cover to prevent a skin from forming.
  9. Hold a pasta shell in one hand and stuff with a large spoonful of the beef-spinach mixture (about a 1-inch ball). Cover the stuffed shells with a damp towel as you work.
  10. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Smear the bottom with 1/2 cup of the pumpkin sauce. Arrange the stuffed shells in the prepared pan with the openings face-down.
  11. Spoon more sauce on top. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce is bubbling hot, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before decorating with parsley leaves.

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