Cheesy Pumpkin & Sage Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells

Cheesy Pumpkin & Sage Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells

It’s official ya’ll! The leaves have changed and the mornings are chilly, fall is here! This Cheesy Pumpkin & Sage Sausage Pasta Shells recipe is rich & decadent, perfect if you’re looking for a cozy fall weeknight dinner. Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with savory sage sausage & creamy ricotta cheese covered in a lush pumpkin sauce and melty Italian cheese.

Dry pasta for stuffing with fresh sage

Pumpkin Stuffed Pasta Shells Ingredients:

  • Jumbo Pasta Shells– perfect for stuffing.

For Filling:

  • Ground Sage Sausage– sage sausage is perfect for when you want to amplify the fall flavors of your dish. It can generally be found near the breakfast sausage in most grocery stores.
  • Fresh Spinach– roughly chopped.
  • Ricotta Cheese-an Italian cheese made from very fine cheese curds. The flavor is light and milky and the texture is smooth with a very slight grain.
  • Italian Blend Shredded Cheese– generally a blend of Mozzarella, Provolone, Asiago, Parmesan & Romano cheeses. Specific cheeses vary from brand to brand, so use your favorite.
  • Salt & pepper

For Pumpkin Sauce:

  • Butter– this butter will be melted and browned to give your sauce a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
  • Fresh Sage– fresh sage is used in a lot of fall recipes, especially fall pasta recipes. It is earthy and a bit peppery with notes of citrus.
  • Minced Garlic– always.
  • Pumpkin Puree– you can use canned pumpkin puree or make your own from sugar pumpkins. To make your own, see notes below.
  • Chicken Broth– this is used to thin out your sauce.
  • Cream– whole milk, half & half, or heavy cream can be used.
  • Spices– ground cinnamon & ground nutmeg.
  • Brown Sugar– don’t skip this! Brown sugar adds a bit of sweetness to balance the flavors of your sauce.
  • Salt & Pepper– to taste

Substitutions & Variations:

  • To add a bit of heat, try using hot ground sausage or a blend of sage and hot ground sausage. Spicy Italian sausage also works really well.
  • Instead of jumbo pasta shells, try using Manicotti, which are long tube like pasta. To stuff them, add filling to a plastic bag with the tip cut off. A 9×13 casserole dish can generally hold 8-10 of these.
  • Instead of nutmeg & cinnamon, sub 1 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice which is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.

How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Purée:

  • To make homemade pumpkin puree for your pumpkin pasta sauce, you will need a baking pumpkin also known as a sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin. These are small pumpkins generally 4-6 pounds.
  • Preheat oven to 400F. Cut baking pumpkin in half from stem to bottom. Scoop out the seeds and most of the stringy bits. Brush flesh (interior) of pumpkin with a touch of neutral cooking oil, and place pumpkin halves flesh side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast pumpkin for 45-60 minutes until tender, and skin easily pulls away. Remove pumpkin from oven, let cool a few minutes until easily handled. Gently pull skin away from the meat of pumpkin, and add soft flesh to a food process. Blend until smooth.
  • If you have extra puree, you can freeze the leftovers. Simply add pumpkin puree to a freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Puree will last 3 month in the freezer and up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Unbaked Stuffed Pasta Shells covered in Italian Cheese

Equipment Needed:

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KnifeCutting Board
Large PotColander
Medium Sauce PanSpatula
Frying PanLarge Mixing Bowl
9×13 Casserole Dish

How to make Pumpkin & Sage Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells:

  • Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add at least 20 jumbo pasta shells to boiling water and cook according to directions on package. Once cooked, drain pasta using a colander and set aside until ready to use. While pasta is cooking, make pumpkin sauce. In a medium sauce pan, melt salted butter over medium-low heat. Allow butter to cook until just starting to brown and beginning to have a sweet, nutty aroma. Watch butter closely as it can quickly change from browned to burnt. Once butter has browned add minced garlic and finely chopped fresh sage. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in pumpkin puree, cream, 1/2 cup chicken broth, kosher salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, brown sugar, and ground pepper. Stir until fully combined. If pumpkin sauce is a bit too thick, add more chicken broth a tablespoon at a time to thin. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.

Make Sausage & Ricotta Filling:

  • In a frying pan over medium-high heat, cook ground sage sausage until browned and crumbled. Add roughly chopped fresh spinach and continue cooking and stirring until spinach has wilted. Transfer sausage mixture to a paper towel lined plate to drain grease. In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese, and 1/2 cup of pumpkin sauce. Add sausage & spinach mixture and stir to fully combine. Taste and add salt & pepper if needed.

Construct & Bake:

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Meanwhile, pour remaining pumpkin sauce into a 9×13 oven-safe casserole dish. Gently shake dish so that pumpkin sauce spreads out into an even layer. Next, stuff a pasta shell with about 1.5 tbsp of sausage filling. Press stuffed shell into pumpkin sauce. Repeat this process until you have 4 rows of 5 shells. Top pasta with remaining 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese has melted and everything is warmed through. Serve immediately.

Stuffed Pasta Shells Leftovers:

  • Store Pumpkin Sausage Pasta Shells in an airtight container. When stored properly, this recipe will last in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, preheat oven to 375F. Transfer shells to an oven-safe dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 minutes until warmed through.
  • Use your best judgement when eating leftovers. If you notice any sour aromas, discard leftovers.
Baked Pumpkin & Sage Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells

Tips & Recipe Notes for Stuffed Pasta Shells:

  • Instead of canned pumpkin puree, you can make your own homemade version. See notes above to find out how.
  • When boiling pasta shells, throw a few extra in the pot just in case some rip.

More Fall Dinner Ideas You’ll Love:

Baked Pumpkin & Sage Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells

Cheesy Pumpkin & Sage Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells

Jumbo Pasta Shells stuffed with savory sage sausage & creamy ricotta cheese covered in a lush pumpkin sauce and melty Italian cheese. The perfect fall comfort weeknight dinner.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 5

Equipment

  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Large Pot
  • Colander
  • medium sauce pan
  • Spatula
  • Frying Pan
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • 9×13 Casserole Dish

Ingredients
  

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells

For Pumpkin Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage finely chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp minced garlic 4-6 cloves
  • 30 oz can pumpkin puree about 3 cups
  • 1 cup cream whole milk, half & half, or heavy cream
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground pepper

For Sausage Filling:

  • 16 oz ground sage sausage such as Jimmy Dean
  • 4 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese divided
  • pinch salt & pepper

Instructions
 

  • Prep Pasta Shells & Pumpkin Sauce: bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add at least 20 jumbo pasta shells to boiling water and cook according to directions on package. Once cooked, drain pasta using a colander and set aside until ready to use. While pasta is cooking, make pumpkin sauce. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Allow butter to cook until just starting to brown and beginning to have a sweet, nutty aroma. Watch butter closely as it can quickly change from browned to burnt. Once butter has browned add minced garlic and finely chopped fresh sage. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in pumpkin puree, cream, 1/2 cup chicken broth, kosher salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, brown sugar, and ground pepper. Stir until fully combined. If pumpkin sauce is a bit too thick, add more chicken broth a tablespoon at a time to thin. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.
  • Make Sausage & Ricotta Filling: in a frying pan over medium-high heat, cook ground sage sausage until browned and crumbled. Add roughly chopped fresh spinach and continue cooking and stirring until spinach has wilted. Transfer sausage mixture to a paper towel lined plate to drain grease. In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese, and 1/2 cup of pumpkin sauce. Add sausage & spinach mixture and stir to fully combine. Taste and add salt & pepper if needed.
  • Construct and Bake: preheat oven to 375F. Meanwhile, pour remaining pumpkin sauce into a 9×13 oven-safe casserole dish. Gently shake dish so that pumpkin sauce spreads out into an even layer. Next, stuff a pasta shell with about 1.5 tbsp of sausage filling. Press stuffed shell into pumpkin sauce. Repeat this process until you have 4 rows of 5 shells. Top pasta with remaining 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese has melted and everything is warmed through. Serve immediately.

Notes

To add a bit of heat, try using hot ground sausage or a blend of sage and hot ground sausage. Spicy Italian sausage also works really well.
Instead of jumbo pasta shells, try using Manicotti, which are long tube like pasta. To stuff them, add filling to a plastic bag with the tip cut off. A 9×13 casserole dish can generally hold 8-10 of these.
Instead of nutmeg & cinnamon, sub 1 tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice which is a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
Instead of canned pumpkin puree, you can make your own homemade version. See notes above to find out how.
When boiling pasta shells, throw a few extra shells in the pot just in case some rip.
Keyword comfort food, fall dinner ideas, fall pasta recipes, fresh sage, italian cheese, jumbo pasta shells, pumpkin pasta sauce, pumpkin puree, ricotta cheese, sage sausage, weeknight dinner

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