I'm not a squash person. Ok, let's face it, I'm not a vegetable person. I'm more a, shall we say, carb kind of girl. So when I licked the spoon after whipping up this stuffed shell recipe . . . and I actually went back for more . . . I gave myself my own little heart attack.
This recipe is courtesy of Ali at Gimme Some Oven, a genuinely kind and sweet food blogger from Kansas City that I met at Chopped Con. After she professed her undying love for Aldi, I knew her recipes had to be worth trying. Plus, this recipe has plenty of milk and cheese in it! And for that, we dairy farmers thank you.
So if you're unsure of squash or if you love it, if you need an impressive supper sure to leave your family wondering why they've put up such a fuss about orange food for so long, this is the recipe for you.
Or as my dad used to say when making us kids try a bite of every food on our plate, "Have I ever made you try something you didn't like?"
Don't answer that.
What You'll Need for the Shells
1) Cold? Freezing? Turn your oven to 425 degrees F. This will not only warm up your kitchen but will also cook your squash. Double whammy! Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, coating it with cooking spray.
2) Place one medium peeled and diced butternut squash into a large bowl. Toss with six garlic cloves and one tablespoon olive oil until evenly coated.
3) Spoon the squash out on the baking sheet, and go to town with your salt and pepper shakers.
4) Fish out the garlic cloves and wrap them up in a piece of tin foil. (It's like a delicious smelling early Christmas present wrapped in silver!) Along with the garlic, bake the squash for about 20 minutes. When it's done, you'll be able to mash the squash pretty easily.
5) While the squash is doing its thang, cook six ounces of jumbo pasta shells.
6) And while the gigantical shells are doing THEIR thang, whip up a homemade alfredo sauce the likes of which you'll see again. Until you make the recipe next.
7) Heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium/high heat. Add four cloves of minced garlic, or if you're cheating, a big gloop of the kind that comes in a jar. Saute for about a minute, and then sprinkle with three tablespoons of flour, stirring continuously for another minute.
8) Add one cup chicken broth, continuing to whisk until the liquid is smooth. Add 1 cup milk. (Ali adds one tablespoon of fresh sage, but since I had none, I didn't. Good news: It was still delicious.) Let the mixture simmer, and then cook for another minute or it's nice and creamy thick.
9) Add 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. The dairy farmers among us thank you. Then add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. balk pepper and stir. While your pasta finishes cooking, you can leave this mixture on low on the stove, stirring occasionally.
10) Add one cup of the alfredo sauce to the mashed-up squash and stir. This is where licking the spoon really comes in to play. Just don't go too crazy. You're going to need this to stuff the shells.
11) In a 9x13-inch baking dish (preferably of the vintage Pyrex variety), pour out about 1/2 cup of the remaining alfredo sauce.
12) Now add some of the butternut filling to each of the shells, stuffing them nice and fully, and fill up your Pyrex, filling-side-up.
13) Spoon the remaining alfredo sauce over the shells. Now melt one tablespoon of butter, and add 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning and a dash of salt. Stir that slurry up and sprinkle it over the stuffed shells.
14) You're one step away from eating supper! Bake the shells for about 15 minutes. When the breadcrumbs start to turn a golden brown, do a little happy dance and pull the dish out of the oven. It's supper time!
Farmer's score: Five green tractors
Farmer's comments: "I can't stop eating these."
Notes: These were gone in two meals. We practically ate them with our hands. And did I mention? I don't even like squash. Or should I say . . . didn't. Because now I do. A lot.