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spaghetti squash stuffed shells

When I was a kid my grandparents used to take our family out to dinner every single Saturday night.  For years.  They continued after I went to college.  Everyone knew they were always invited.  Dinner was at 5pm, give or take a half hour.  Sometimes all 10 of us were there, sometimes 6, but the number didn’t matter.  90% of the time they let one of 4 grandkids pick the restaurant.  For many years my brother and I were the only grandkids, which meant I got to choose a lot.  I can’t even begin to explain how generous [among other things] my grandparents were.  I could write a book about it.

Anyway.  There was one Italian restaurant we went to time + time again.  Fazios!  I was kind of a picky kid growing up.  Not terrible but not great.  My parents probably remember more specifics.  So, at this one specific restaurant I would always order stuffed shells.

Three jumbo stuffed shells.  Filled with ricotta cheese and smothered in red sauce.  We probably ate there 30 times over the course of Saturday dinners and that is the only thing I ever ate.  I tried to branch out once but regretted my decision.

spaghetti squash stuffed shells | edible perspective

Now how is it possible that I’ve never made stuffed shells at home?  Really, they are too easy.

spaghetti squash stuffed shells | edible perspective

So what’s with the spaghetti squash in the recipe?  Well, I decided to spruce things up a bit.  My taste buds have evolved since I was a kid, and I figured the recipe should reflect that.

spaghetti squash stuffed shells | edible perspective

The spaghetti squash does make this a bit of a more time intensive recipe, but the hands on time barely changes.  Plan a night where you’ll have a bit more time to be in the kitchen. You can also prep the squash [and sauce!] a day or two ahead and have it ready to go.

If you aren’t typically a pasta lover I urge you to give this a try.  I would relate it more to lasagna. 

If you sort of like spaghetti squash but don’t like scarfing down an entire bowl of it, this may be more your speed.

It adds a lovely little crunch with every bite.

spaghetti squash stuffed shells | edible perspective

I was obsessed with every single bite of this comforting meal.  The best part?  There are piles of leftovers!  Unless you invite grandma + grandpa over…I wish!

spaghetti squash stuffed shells | edible perspective

Print this!

Spaghetti Squash Stuffed Shells [serves about 6]

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash [3 cups cooked]
  • 1 box jumbo pasta shells [gluten free if needed – this box had 4 servings]
  • about 48oz thick pasta sauce [or 1 1/2 standard jars]
  • 1 cup full fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • parmesan cheese
  • oil/salt/pepper [for the squash]
  1. Preheat your oven to 400*. 
  2. Slice your spaghetti squash lengthwise and rub the inside and rims with about 1/2 tablespoon of oil [for each half] and sprinkle with salt + pepper.
  3. Place on a parchment lined pan cut side down and roast for 45-55min until tender and the squash can be easily pulled apart with a fork.
  4. Flip over and let cool for 10-15min then pull the squash out with the help of a fork.  Set aside.
  5. While the squash is baking, cook your pasta shells according to package directions.  Rinse with cold water to help prevent sticking.  *Make sure not to overcook because they will cook a bit more in the oven. 
  6. Mix the spaghetti squash, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper until combined.  Start with 1/4t salt + pepper.  Taste, then add more if needed.
  7. Preheat your oven to 350* and take out a 9x13 pan and a 9x9 pan.
  8. Pour out just enough sauce to coat the bottom of each pan.
  9. Stuff each shell [carefully] until the filling is flush with the bottom. ~30-32 shells  The amount may vary depending on what brand you use.  I used Tinkyada, which are the only GF shells I can find. 
  10. Place the shells stuffed side down in the pan so that they are slightly touching one another.
  11. Coat each shell with about 2 tablespoons [heaping scoop] of sauce and spread around.
  12. Cover with foil and bake for 15min.  Then uncover and bake for 10min.
  13. Turn your broiler on low, sprinkle the tops with parmesan, and broil for 3-5 minutes watching closely until the cheese is bubbly.
  14. Garnish with fresh rosemary, basil, or parsley if desired.

notes:  Make sure to use a thick pasta sauce to avoid excess liquid in the pan.  I made a double batch of my favorite red sauce recipe with fresh rosemary, simmered it for 20 minutes, blended it with my immersion blender, then let it simmer for 30 more minutes until it was nice and thick.  The brand of shells I mentioned above worked perfectly.  Their texture was great and they didn’t fall apart at all.

I prepped the squash and sauce the night before with a total hands on time of about 15 minutes.  Totally worth it!

spaghetti squash stuffed shells | edible perspective

Time for dessert.  I mean leftovers.


Reader Comments (26)

YUM! This looks incredible. I will definitely be on the look out for shells next time I am at the store.
This looks great, but where does actually the spaghetti squash go? Into the stuffing mixture?
Is it just me or does your blog post show up on the column with the ads?
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSilvia @ skinny jeans food
This looks so good! My mom always used to make stuffed shells so they are a total nostalgia food for me too.
This looks SO good! And what a wonderful family tradition!
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
What a wonderful alternative way to use spaghetti squash! Since becoming vegan I have contemplated how to still use stuffed shells, this is perfect!
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbby@totes delish
Yes, please!
Ashley! This looks so incredibly good! Such a brilliant idea. I am all over this.
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill @ Sincerely Jill
@Silvia - Thank you for catching that! I forgot to add spaghetti squash in the directions when mixing it together with the ricotta mixture. It's updated now! Also, not sure about the blog coming up in the column area. Looks fine on my end. Sometimes, there can be brief issues like that. If it doesn't resolve let me know! Thanks. :)

@Abby - Are you thinking of trying to sub out the ricotta with tofu? Let me know if you try! One of my favorite recipes is with a tofu cream sauce mixed with red sauce.
October 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterAshley
I love that memory! And I also love stuffed shells. A perfect post!
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
I'll be your pretend grandma to get invited to this dinner... YUM!!
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey
you're a genius :) that is all!
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather @ Heather's Dish
i love this recipe - i have a spaghetti squash that has been kicking around the house for awhile and now i know what to do with it!
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterallie@sweetpotatobites
My mom is Italian and she and her family have always made Italian meals for every major holiday (Christmas, Easter, etc)... In recent years, stuffed shells have been her go-to. I love the addition of spaghetti squash!
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie @ Blonde Ambition
You know, I've seen lots of stuffed pasta recipes with butternut squash or pumpkin in the filling, but never with spaghetti squash! I'm super excited to try it. :)
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEileen
This sounds so good! I must try this when I get home from my 10 day Denver work trip, I will definitely be in the mood to cook after that many days of eating at restaurants.
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonya
My mother would love this!! I will have to make it for her :)
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley
Haha, I usually eat spaghetti squash to feel like I'm cheating and eating pasta, but now you've gone and married the two! Looks delicious regardless...I absolutely love ricotta!
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren
Yum! This looks like a killer meal!
I believe only lucky people nurture by their grand-ma and grand-pa's affection and all love. It's just priceless! Well, this shell pasta sound so good. Adding squash is new to me. Pics are just perfect! :-)
October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonia
this sounds delicious! I make a MEAN cheese-stuffed shell but this I am going to have to try!
October 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdeva by definition
I did something similar with butternut squash and it was delicious! :)
October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCatalina @ Cake with Love
Wonderful memories and the best family tradition.......and the Best Family....we sure have had some fun you Ashley. I will never forget those dinners.....
October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSherie
This is speaking my language right now, at the beginning of fall, wanting all kinds of warm, cozy comfort foods!
October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley
@Katie - Oooh, I think I love your mom!

Lauren - Hahaha :) Ricotta is underutilized in my kitchen.

Sonia - I couldn't agree more.

@Catalina - I am intrigued!!

@Sherie - Love you SO MUCH and miss you guys a ridiculous amount.

@Kimberley - Tomorrow will be the last day of leftovers and I think I might cry.
October 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterAshley
Clever idea- I still have yet to try spaghetti squash, but this might be the first recipe I try with it!
October 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbritainknee
Fazio's in WV?
March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

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