Stuffed Pasta Shells

In my never-ending search for ways to sneak veggies into my kids bellies I have revamped my stuffed shells recipe.  The secret word is…Squash.  This recipe is packed with butternut squash, yellow zucchini squash and mushrooms.  I know that mushrooms are not in the squash family but don’t count then out.  They are still a fun guy.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, it to sneak squash into your families diet and bold face lie if they ask what that mushroom is doing in there.  The answer is…it’s part of the meat.  Just eat.

Ingredients:

1 box jumbo pasta shells
1 package sweet Italian style turkey sausage
2 jars pasta sauce
1 small butternut squash
1 yellow squash
2-3 cloves garlic – minced
5-6 mushrooms – diced (I used capelli mushrooms but use whatever you like)
handful of fresh parsley – chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper

Start by cooking the butternut squash in the microwave.  Cut squash in half, spoon out the seeds and set face down in a glass baking dish.  Put about an inch of water in the dish.  Cover and cook for about 8 minutes or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork.  When the squash is done, scoop out all the “squash meat” into a blender.  Add the water that is left in the dish and blend until smooth.  Add one jar of pasta sauce and blend until incorporated.  Set aside.

Break turkey sausage up and cook in a skillet.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

While the turkey is cooking, grate the yellow squash with a box grater.  I used the second to smallest side.  If you grate it too big picky eaters will see the yellow and call you out.  Too small and it ends up a pulpy mess.

Dice mushrooms into small, inconspicuous bits.

In the same skillet you cooked the turkey, heat up a little bit of olive oil and saute garlic, squash and mushrooms.  About 2 – 3 minutes.  Season with salt & pepper.  Return turkey to the skillet and combine.  Pour in about one cup (or so) of the pasta sauce mixture, add the parsley and give a good stir.

While you were cooking up the squash and shrooms you should have started the water to boil for the pasta.  You want to cook the shells so they are just soft.  If you cook them until they are ready to eat they will get way too mushy once everything is combined.  Boil them for about 6-8 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Toss with a little olive oil so they won’t stick together.

Now it’s time to assemble.

Pour some sauce (about 1 1/2 cups) in the bottom of a large baking dish and spread it around.  Fill the shells with the meat mixture and line them up in the dish.

Pour the rest of the sauce and about half of the second jar all over the shells.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes or until bubbly.

If you want it to be cheesy…remove foil at the end of the baking time, sprinkle with lots of shredded mozzarella and bake for another 10 minutes.

The great thing about using yellow squash instead of something green is that those picky-eater-eagle-eyes can’t find it in all the saucy goodness.  HAHA.  Mommy – 1, picky eater – zip.

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