Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with a Lemon Sage Brown Butter Sauce

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I’m sorry, but I just can’t get enough of butternut squash this season! I know I just previously posted a lasagna using it but recently after flipping through a beautiful Donna Hay magazine I also got inspired to stuff it into pasta shells.

Donna used sweet potatoes in her recipe, which I’m sure is delicious but I knew immediately I’d be using butternut squash. I also added spinach to my stuffed shells and an egg for binding. This dish is great as a main course, or on a buffet, or even a side dish to your holiday meal.

Stuffed shells are a great addition to any dinner party, they’re individual, easy to serve, and easy to eat.

***Peel, chop and toss in olive oil your butternut squash, then into a hot oven roast the squash at 400F for 15-20 minutes, let the squash cool down and then with a fork slightly smash them leaving some chunks.


***Cook jumbo pasta shells according to directions but make sure they’re al’dente because they’re going to cook a little more in the oven, drain and set aside.


***In a bowl add 2 cups of ricotta,** 1/3 cup parmesan cheese,** 1 fresh smashed garlic clove,** 1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach ( squeezed and drained)** 1 egg, **salt, pepper,** your cooled down roasted and smashed squash, around 2 cups,** and the zest of 1 lemon.** The lemon zest was key to this dish and added a nice bright flavor.
***Stuff the shells with the mixture and place in a buttered baking dish.
Make a sage brown butter sauce by melting 1 stick of butter in saute pan until golden brown and bubbly.
Add at least 10 sage leaves until slightly crisp. Turn off heat and squeeze in fresh lemon juice of the lemon you zested.


Place your stuffed butternut squash shells in a 375F oven until heated through with some foil loosely on top for around 20-25 minutes. When finished spoon your warm sage sauce all over and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Inspired by Donna Hay

Fills around a dozen shells.


We took a drive the other day to see all the gorgeous fall colors, before we know it all the trees will be bare and we’ll be looking at snow. That I could live with out


Buon Appetito!

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  1. Karen Rooster Boots says

    This is simply amazing Thank you! We enjoyed it last night while watching election coverage. I took a photo if you would like to see. 😉

  2. I found this recipe about 3 years ago and I make this dish at least twice in the winter. It is amazing and delicious. The sage brown butter sauce is the perfect way to finish these off. The hint of fresh lemon (juice and zest) sends me right over the edge. My fiance’ does not like cheese, but he will eat this and doesn’t even realize he is eating cheese. I bring the leftovers to work for my coworkers who love it as much as I do. Great textures and flavors in this dish, I highly recommend making it!

  3. Can you substitute something else for the sage

  4. We are very excited to be serving this as one of the main dishes at our daughter’s (all vegetarian) wedding reception (along with very yummy fresh, Italian-inspired food). We tested and the lemon brightens it perfectly for summer and the butternut squash and brown butter sauce makes it rich enough to not miss the meat!

    The caterer is friend of mine and I love to cook. So to save on some catering costs, I am going to try to make a WHOLE bunch ahead of time and freeze, if they will turn out. I do not have a lot of experience freezing pasta, so you have any types for freezing a dish such as this?

    Thank you!

    • That’s wonderful Jennifer! Well the only pasta I’ve ever froze was a lasagna which has ricotta in it and it seems to come out good. I would give it a test run to make sure. Congrats to your daughter!

  5. So delicious!!! The more lemon the better.. make sure you’ve removed and let the butter sauce cool for minute before adding your lemon juice. I squeezed 1.5 lemons in advanced and poured it all in at once and the mixture went crazy. Anyways this is awesome, now that it passed the initial test I’ll be making this all summer long for parties and dinner at home alike:)

  6. oliveyougirl says

    I have made it twice now and it is absolutely amazing!!! First time with the shells and 2nd time with gluten free lasagne noodles. Awesome both ways! I doubled the filling for a 9×13 lasagne pan.

  7. Thanks for this recipe! Love the filling. Will definitely make again, but found that the shells really did dry out in oven. Baked one batch uncovered and the second uncovered with the same result. Any suggestions for a remedy?

  8. WOW…..it was like eating dinner and desert combined. Amazing…I used fresh baby spinach since I did not have frozen in the house. I couldn’t stop eating the shells. The lemon did really give this dish an added touch. WONDERFUL …..

  9. I made this for my family last night and they were a HUGE hit! However, I did not have ricotta so I substitued 1 cup of grated Mozzarella and added a little bit of mild italian sausage that needed to be used up. My 15 year old son went for a third helping! Next time I am going to cover them for half the baking time to give the shells a softer bite. Thank you Proud Italian Cook I am so glad to have found you!!!!

  10. This was really good, but the shells ended up getting dried out in the oven. Do you bake it covered?

  11. I made this for a dinner party I do every year called “Foodiepalooza”. My friends destroyed my first attempt with no leftovers to be found 🙂 I’m trying this again but with pumpkin. I’m hoping it’ll turn out just as well so I can try it out on another test panel! Thanks for such a great recipe!!!

  12. Made these today – absolutely delicious and a perfect combination. I agree that the lemon peel is a MUST!

    Thank you!

  13. Fantastic! I just had these for dinner and am so glad I made a double batch to freeze a tray. Can’t wait to have them again!

  14. This sounds delicious! Perfect for Fall.

    Tess, thanks for sharing your version of the recipe, it will be much easier for me to follow while I’m cooking.

  15. This looks delicious, but the recipe format just doesn’t work for my recipe print-off binder! I made a user/printer-friendly version of it that everyone is free to use – CLICK HERE

    • Tess, Thank you for the user/printer-friendly version of this recipe. It fits my files perfectly. I made it for my family last night and was a HUGH hit! My hats of the the Proud Italian Cook. I am now totally hooked on your site!!!!

  16. Sandi, yes the peel of one lemon and then use the juice for the sauce.

  17. Can I ask how much lemon peel exactly? From one while lemon? (excited to try this!)

  18. All of my favorite things! Butternut squash, spinach and of course Ricotta! Can’t wait to try this recipe! mmm! You should totally enter this into Craftbaby’s Fall Food Challenge! 🙂 http://www.craftbaby.com/contests/30/Fall%20Food

  19. Julie, a lb of shells will definitely feed 5 people.

  20. how many servings does this make? id like to make this for about 5 people….

  21. Cindy what is it you need? The amounts are pretty much in the post. email me at prouditaliancook@hotmail.com

  22. Im making this right now and would really love some exact amts on the ingredients!

  23. It’s absolutely delicious!!!

  24. OMG… Thank you so much for this recipe! It’s fantastic!

  25. OMG this recipe rocks!! I too am a proud Italian cook & I could eat this everyday! Followed the recipe exactly and wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for making me a very happy girl. 🙂

  26. I made this last night and it rocked my face off!! I couldn’t find fresh sage, but the brown butter/lemon worked well without it. I think next time I’ll use lasagna sheet instead of stuffing shells…but that’s just because I’m lazy! 🙂 Thanks for posting, I loved it!!

  27. another amazing creation! i just love your blog!! 🙂

  28. I remember making a lasagna similar to this, sweet and savory…the aromas were dreamy.

  29. wonderful dish!

  30. BookieBookie, email me and I’ll help you out with amounts.

  31. I just finished cooking a gallon of milk into ricotta especially for this recipe! Will be roasting my squash next, then putting this all together for dinner tonight. Since no quantities are given in the post, I’ll be winging it, but it should work out fine–that nice photo helps a lot. Thanks for posting this!


  32. Kat, could you email me at prouditaliancook@hotmail.com. Thanks

  33. I love this! Could you tell me about how much of each ingredient you used? I am quite new at cooking, so I’m no exactly how much of each I should use. However I would love to make this. Thanks!!

  34. Love how you stuffed the shells with the squash. It works so well in raviloi, lasagna, so why not shells?

  35. I am also addicted to butternut squash these days, and I love all the recipes I’ve seen that combine it with some form of pasta. I’m being very picky about what I cook these days, because I don’t have a lot of evenings that I get the chance… but I think this might be one of the stand out options that I just HAVE TO try! Sounds amazing!!

  36. I made this last night, and it was fantastic! I have to agree (and am soooo glad you pointed out) that the lemon really makes the dish.

    Even DH loved it, and he’s afraid of anything that looks “too fancy”. How cool is that?

    Thanks for the recipe.

  37. What lovely shells. Great photo. I’m always looking for recipes to use fresh sage from my herb garden and this is perfect.

  38. OMG…this looks so yummy…i love your website!

  39. FABULOUS! I love butternut squash, too. This is inspired.

  40. Oh those shells look fabulous Marie! And what pretty Fall colors, I miss that here in SoCal.

  41. I can’t get enough butternut squash either, Marie. Your shells look divine. And so are your fall photos!

  42. I am making this tonight!

  43. I loved the way you incorporated the buternut squash here. Looks delicious!!!

  44. Wonderful combination. I’m not sure if I’m daft, but I didn’t see when you added the squash. I assume after you baked it you scooped it out or cubed it and then added all the other stuff. I will have to try it while I am here in the states for my Italian sister in law who loves stuffed shells. Yum

  45. Oh my, I love the sound of this. (Now if only I could find whole wheat or low-carb shells, drat!)

  46. I have looked high and low for these big pasta shells with no success. I will not stop though until I can make this divine meal!!!

  47. Don’t apologize. I can never get enough of pasta dishes with butternut squash and I’m sure I’m not alone. I haven’t had stuffed shells in ages and your version makes a wonderful presentation for entertaining.

  48. What a wonderful idea, this looks delicious!

  49. Oh SNAP I am all over this. I bet the non-squash eaters (“freaks” as I call them) would be more apt to like them with the addition of some sausage maybe? Sausage and pasta and squash work together, and a little goes a long way. Hmm…I’m gonna try this!

  50. This is looks soooo good!!! I wish my family liked butternut squash. I just made a butternut squash pasta dish that I LOVED… and they all didn’t really enjoy.

  51. Your pictures are great…I miss the changes of the season being here in Phoenix. Thanks for such a pretty reminder.

  52. Amazing dish! I could eat that right now for lunch. And those lovely fall colors are amazing. I love this time of the year.

  53. That’s what I miss out on in California… beautiful fall colors. (SIGH). I’m trying to cook meatless at least once a week, so this would be a wonderful meal. I love that sage floating in a butter jacuzzi– so decadent and so good! No doubt, this was a flavorful meal. I’m bookmarking this one– actually, you and Stacey should just publish a cookbook. I could eat everyday the way that you two cook!

  54. Your fall colors are gorgeous, Marie. Just like your stuffed shells. I can’t wait to make this scrumptious dish. Sage and butternut squash…heaven.

  55. These shells look incredible, and I’m sure the lemon sage brown butter sauce makes them even more special! I love butternut squash too so I always appreciate new recipes using it as a main ingredient.

  56. Hi Marie!

    This would be perfect as an vegetarian entree for a Thanksgiving buffet.

    Your autumn color is beautiful! Thanks for looking at my autumnal Central Park blog post. I guess we both love thsi season! 🙂

  57. Dina, Borders bookstore always has Donna Hay’s magazines. Hope this helps.

  58. So wonderful to combine American with Italian – is delicious – I can tell. The drive looks like here- appreciate while you may – winter does come. But squash is delectable!

  59. I have to agree that I can’t seem to get enough of butternut squash this year. Lovely photos.

  60. Sounds YUMMY! I can’t wait to try it. I have a question though, where did you find the Donna Hay magazine? I looked it up and it seems to be international, Austrailian, perhaps? I would love to know since I am a food magazine junkie! Keep up the good work. I look forward to the updates and I am very glad to have stumbled upon your blog!

  61. the shells look just wonderful. Love all the fall pictures. We don’t see the leave change around here.

  62. I have a butternut squash and this recipe is calling its name. Your recipes are exquisite as are your autumn photos. I don’t want fall to end… Thank you!

  63. I will certainly be trying this, sound delicious! I adore butternut squash – actually, I don’t think I’ve ever met a squash I didn’t like.

  64. I can never get enough butternut squash in the fall.
    I love these little shells….I finally made a butternut squash lasagne, will post it in a few days.
    It was delish!

  65. Those shells looks so delicious, Marie! What a great recipe! I’m a huge fan of butternut squash too.

  66. Wow, Marie – this is over the top! I love this! This will be on the menu this weekend. And I love your fall photos.

  67. I am definitely going to try these stuffed shells! Your photos are fabulously fall, shells and all. The beautifully colored leaves make me miss home and the crisp air that comes with the season’s change.

  68. I can’t get enough of squash either!

    This dish sounds amazing.

  69. Another yummy recipe from Marie. I have about four more butternut squash to use and am looking forward to trying out new and old recipes – yours among them. Love the autumn pictures too – I will hate to see the season end as well.

  70. I can’t get enough butternut…ever, any season.
    I made a casserole with gruyere cheese and panko that I need to post soon.
    I will try this one though as I love brown butter sauce.
    I love this!!!

  71. Mmmm! Those look perfect for a chilly day!

  72. oh man your killing me here! that dish looks incredible! and the fall pictures are beautiful. We don’t get that beautiful fall season change around here 🙁

  73. I too love butternut squash! So tasty! Will be trying this out for sure. Cause not only do I like squash but I loooove pasta! Thanks for sharing!

  74. Looks yummy.

  75. Such a perfect dish for the season.


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