Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Cream Sauce

A beautiful main dish for the vegetarians that also works as a seasonal holiday side, these shells can be prepped in advance making day-of cooking easier.

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 70 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course


  • 1 large butternut squash (roughly 2 lbs)
  • 6 ounces large pasta shells
  • 2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage or 6 to 8 fresh leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan (see note)
  • Fresh sage (for topping)


  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Slice butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place each half cut side down in a large roasting dish and pour 1/2 inch of water into the bottom. Place in oven and bake until tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Once done, remove and let cool.
  3. While squash is roasting, cook pasta shells according to directions. Cook until pasta is al dente (tender, but not over soft).
  4. When squash has cooled enough to handle, scrape out the flesh into a bowl and discard the skins. Mix in maple syrup, salt, and nutmeg until thoroughly incorporated. 
  5. To make sauce, melt butter in a medium sized pot over medium low heat. Pour in heavy cream, garlic, sage, and rosemary.  Reduce heat and continue to cook the sauce without boiling the cream until the cream has thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup of parmesan and keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted. 
  6. Pour 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of a medium baking dish. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of butternut filling into each pasta shell. Place stuffed pasta shell in the dish and repeat until pasta shells are filled. Pour remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan. 
  7. Return stuffed shells in the oven and bake until sauce starts to bubble and slightly brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh sage.


Tips & Tricks: The roasted butternut squash should yield about 2 cups mashed.

Look for parmesan made with 'vegetarian rennet' or 'microbial rennet'. Both would indicate that the parmesan is vegetarian!

For an extra crusty top, place the pasta under the broiler after it finishes cooking for 30 to 60 seconds to brown the top.

Stock up: get the pantry ingredients you will need: pasta, maple syrup, butter

Nutrition: See the information.