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Jan 6, 2012 09:20 AM

Creating a recipe for stuffed shells advice

I have a ham I want to make for some friends, but some do not eat ham and are basically vegetarian anyway (veg at home but eat it other places- beef and poultry only).

As a side dish I wanted to make a veg friendly main dish that can also be a side that goes with ham. What do you think of stuffed shells with a winter squash sauce?

I am developing the recipe myself and was thinking to stuff the shells with ricotta and spinach mixture and then top the shells with a sauce I will make from the squash (mostly butternut and long neck).

I will also be serving a salad.

Has anyone made something similar or have any tips? I was going to saute onion and use some broth and squash puree for the sauce. I've made a sauce similar for pasta begore but it always had sausage with it so I am apprenhensive about the flavor. Most of us are weight conscious so nothing too rich. The one diabetic should be fine with this menu. Thanks!

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  1. I think that sounds great! I made the Giada de Laurentiis butternut squash lasagna one year for a Thanksgiving "side' and it was delicious. Similar to what you're doing. It used a bechamel-type sauce though which I think would go great with what you're doing.

    Maybe do layers of both the winter squash sauce and bechamel? Or you could stuff with the winter squash puree (along with the spinach and ricotta mixture) and just use the bechamel for the sauce. Lots of options!

    here is the link to the original recipe. For her recipe, I used sage instead of basil. Read the reviews for more ideas. I usually find them helpful.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Scirocco

      The béchamel sounds good but one concern and one question:
      Firstly, I thought healthwise the squash made a better sauce but I have no proobl doing a bit of both. If I do that how well would you say the béchamel would hold up if I assemble everything tonight but bake tomorrow? The goal is to not have to spend too much time away from my guests.

      1. re: melpy

        Oh ya, definitely not as healthy! haha A mix would be good too. Sorry, I had missed your comment about watching your weight.

        It was a couple of years ago, but I want to say I did some of mine, if not all of it ahead. ?? I would think it would be fine. And I agree, you want to be able to spend time with your guests! :)

    2. If I were you I'd roast the squash in cubes, and leave them whole so as to give the filling some texture. Mix with some ricotta and mozzarella cheese and your spinach, then top the shells with bechamel and a bit of parmesan and bake. The texture from the squash will make people miss the meat less.

      4 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        We are having ham, so I'm not worried about missing meat so much as health and accomodating food preferences and flavor. I have the purée frozen from this fall but am plannin to supplement with butternut (currently froze is longneck). Would the béchamel work made tonight but then baked tomorrow? I don't want it to separate.

        1. re: melpy

          No problem on making your pan of stuffed shells with bechamel ahead and cooking tomorrow... just did that last week. The flour in bechemel holds it together. Even can freeze, thaw, and cook.

          1. re: melpy

            Hm, if I had to use puree I would probably make a lasagne instead of shells. The size and shape of shells and the amount of filling in them requires some texture to make it interesting, at least for me. But whatever you decide to do, the bechamel will hold fine overnight in the fridge or freezer.

        2. I've been doing stuffed shells recently with a healthy wack of goat cheese in the filling. I don't really measure, but something like 1 part chevre to 2 parts ricotta, one egg, salt, etc.

          1. Ok new dimension, just found out one of my guests is lactose intolerant. If I go easy on the ricotta/ cheese and don't use béchamel on his shells and he still has ham and salad to eat do you think that works? I feel like lactose intolerance is so personal that everyone is different. I drink tons of milk and eat cheese and I'm fine but cottage cheese and ice cream, two of my favorites leave me in a lot of pain! Any LI folks want to weigh in on the menu or give advice?

            2 Replies
            1. re: melpy

              I've used broccoli and cauliflower braised and into food processor. makes a great stuffing and though i used creame fraiche it can probably be w/o milk products. Some egg or roux based mix to bind and you could out of the milk product,

              1. re: melpy

                Speaking as someone with a couple of bad food allergies, I am always happy to eat what I can and skip what I can't. I don't expect someone cooking for a large group to cater for me. So as long as he has ham (and has no dietary restrictions around it) and salad, I am sure he'll be happy.