meatless monday: pumpkin, spinach, and goat cheese stuffed shells

image(74)Happy Halloween week, everyone! I have a pumpkin recipe for you that you’re going to absolutely love. Yes, I know that everyone is tired of the pumpkin spice latte obsession, but this is a savory pumpkin dish that is deceivingly healthy and tastes like an indulgence.

Many pumpkin pasta dishes are laden with tons of cheese and heavy cream, but between the tomato sauce and pumpkin filling, these creamy stuffed shells are full of nutrition (and definitely some cheese, just not overboard).

Whether you roast your own pumpkin or buy canned pumpkin puree, this recipe is a healthy alternative to creamy stuffed shells, especially if you’re not a fan of ricotta cheese. Instead, this dish highlights pumpkin puree as a vegetable and ramps up the nutrition with the addition of fresh spinach.

A note on the pumpkin puree: if you’re not roasting your own pumpkin and you’re buying canned pumpkin, be sure to buy the can that says 100% pumpkin. Don’t accidentally buy the pumpkin pie filling which is full of sugar and additives!

Pumpkin, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Stuffed Shells

Serves 4-6

about 20 dry stuffed shells, cooked according to package directions (you’ll only need 16, but they break easily, so throw in a few extra for good measure)

2 cups pumpkin puree (or about 1 1/2 15 oz cans)

2 cups fresh spinach

28 oz. crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 350 F. In a medium pot, heat olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder over medium high heat. Add the crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and let simmer.

In a wide pan, melt butter over medium heat, then slowly add the flour to make a roux. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine, then slowly fold in the fresh spinach. Add the pumpkin pie spice, parmesan, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper (don’t skimp on the pepper here–it gives a great flavor). Set aside to cool slightly.

Pour the tomato sauce into an 8×8 baking dish, then sprinkle a light layer of parmesan on the sauce. For each pasta shell, scoop about 2 Tbsp. pumpkin mixture and place in the baking dish–you should end up with either four rows of four shells each or three rows of shells (five, five, and six). The shells should be nestled in the tomato sauce with the sauce coming about halfway up each shell. Once all of the stuffed shells are in the dish, top each open shell with goat cheese (about 1-2 tsps. for each shell). Sprinkle the tops of the shells with a light layer of parmesan and bake for about 20 minutes. Serve with a green salad, roasted broccoli, or roasted brussels sprouts.

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