It’s finally cold enough in California to bake. The winter and fall have definitely been mild and hot. Today it was a crisp 67 degrees outside. That’s right, this is what I have to call “crisp” weather. In any case, I took full advantage and decided to use up the tons of canned pumpkin I recently purchased from Trader Joe’s. I’ve seen similar recipes around, using the pumpkin as a creamy alternative to many sauces. I’ll be making spaghetti and pumpkin soon!
Stuffed Shells in Pumpkin Sauce
- approx 14 jumbo shells, already cooked and cooled
- 6 oz of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, and caps chopped
- 3 tbsp butter
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (full fat please)
- 1 1/2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!)
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups of monterey jack cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a 13 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper or foil and lightly, and I do mean lightly oil. Add the butter and some oil (so the butter doesn’t brown or burn) to a skillet. Once the oil is heated through, add the mushrooms and let them brown, turning over maybe 3 times, for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the pumpkin and coconut milk to a 3 quart pan and set on medium-low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer.
Place the ricotta in a bowl, and add the mushrooms when they are ready. Do not set on a paper towel before adding, even if some butter gets in, that’s fine, this is cold weather, delicious, good, rib-sticking food we’re making. Take the sausage and with your fingers pull off small 1/4 inch pieces. Brown on medium heat for 6-7 minutes, turning once. If you like, you can de-glaze the pan once the meat has had a chance to brown with either Port, Vermouth, or Marsala wine.
Add the sausage to the ricotta and season again with salt and pepper. Add in 1 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
Once the pumpkin-coconut milk sauce comes to a simmer add in some salt and pepper to taste, the cinnamon, paprika, garlic, and cornstarch. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Stir and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 3 minutes.
Add a ladle of the pumpkin sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. Take a shell in your hand and with the other use a soup spoon to fill it with the ricotta stuffing. Layer evening into the pan. Cover with remaining sauce (be careful not to completely drench the shells; I recommend using a ladle to pour it over the shells) and sprinkle on the monterey jack cheese. At this point you can also add some bacon/ panchetta to crisp up on top, or more Parmesan cheese. Whatever you like!
Bake in the over for 20-22 min.
Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.