I rarely invite friends for dinner without someone requesting this easy pasta casserole. The sweet squash complements the spicy sausage, and the creamy goat cheese makes it all just melt in your mouth! You can substitute manicotti or even rolled lasagna noodles for the shells. The stuffed shells and sauce can be prepared a day ahead and assembled just before baking. —Taylor Hale, Sonoma, California
Recommended: 40 Light-ish Recipes That Don't Skimp on Cheese
VERIFIED BY Taste of Home Test Kitchen
- 5 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 32 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
- 3/4 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
- 2 cups finely chopped sweet onion, divided
- 1 package (5 ounces) baby kale salad blend, chopped
- 8 ounces crumbled goat cheese, divided
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 carton (26.46 ounces) chopped tomatoes, undrained
- 2 tablespoons fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
- Preheat oven to 400°. On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast squash, stirring halfway through, until tender and starting to caramelize, 40 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; roughly mash. Reduce heat to 350°.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage and 1 cup onion, crumbling meat, until no longer pink. Add baby kale; cook until kale is tender, 3-5 minutes. Mix with squash. Stir in 4 ounces goat cheese.
- In same skillet, heat remaining olive oil. Add remaining onion; cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, sage and sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes. Pulse in a blender until combined. Add half-and-half; pulse until smooth. Pour about half of sauce in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
- Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons squash mixture; arrange in the baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over shells; top with remaining goat cheese. Bake, covered, until beginning to bubble, 20 minutes. Remove cover; bake another 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 10 servings.
Originally published as Butternut Squash and Sausage Stuffed Shells in Taste of Home September/October 2017