Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

After making low calorie muffins using pumpkin puree, I had quite a bit of puree left over.  I saw a recipe for stuffed shells with pumpkin sauce in Rachael Ray's latest magazine issue, and got some inspiration.  I decided to make two versions of these shells--one vegetarian and one with meat.  I obviously ate the vegetarian version, but I think this is quite healthy both ways.

Pumpkin Shells 2 ways

8 ounces pumpkin puree
salt and pepper
olive oil
20 jumbo pasta shells
1 lb. frozen chopped spinach
1 small yellow onion
2 tbsp. butter
8 ounces very lean ground beef
8 ounces low fat cottage cheese
1 cup low fat cheddar cheese
2 cups low fat milk
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 sprigs fresh thyme
5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
1/8 tsp. fresh nutmeg
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Step 1: Boil water in large pot with salt and some olive oil, and cook shells according to directions on box
Step 2: In the meantime, defrost spinach in the microwave and then drain water out with paper towels and preheat oven to 400 degrees
Step 3: Chop onion and add to skillet with olive oil. Cook for 7 minutes with salt, pepper, and thyme sprigs
Step 4: Drain pasta and cover with damp paper towels
Step 5: Take out thyme sprigs and add ground beef to onion mixture and cook for 3 minutes until the pink is gone, then take off heat
Step 6: Add half of the spinach, 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes and 1/6 cup of cheese to the beef mix and let cool
Step 7: Mix cottage cheese, remaining red pepper, 1/6 cup cheddar, 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a bowl
Step 8: Heat milk in microwave for 2 minutes while heating butter in saucepan
Step 9: Add flour to butter and whisk for a minute
Step 10: Add milk to flour mix and whisk until it boils and thickens a bit, then take off heat
Step 11: Add more salt, pepper,basil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, remaining cheese, nutmeg and pumpkin to milk mixture and mix in
Step 12: Add 1/2 cup of the pumpkin and milk mix to 2 8x8 greased baking dishes
Step 13: Fill half the shells with beef mix and half with cottage cheese mix and lay open side down into sauce
Step 14: Top shells with remaining sauce, cover pans with foil and cook pans for 20-25 minutes

Feel free to adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes. This turned out well and is very adaptable. It's a great fall pasta dish!

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