Pumpkin Pesto Ricotta Cheese-Stuffed Pasta Shells
1 pound jumbo pasta shells
1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces mozzarella, torn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup whole milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
16 ounces (roughly 2 cups) whole milk ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
3/4 cup store-bought basil pesto
kosher salt and pepper
fresh basil, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Heat the olive oil in your 12'' HexClad pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the italian sausage and brown all over, about 6 to 9 minutes. Reduce the heat to low then add the pumpkin, bell pepper, milk, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
3. Next, fill your HexClad wok 3/4 the way full with water and bring to a boil. Add salt to water. Add jumbo pasta shells and cook until shells are just before al dente (they will continue to cook later on in oven so we don't want them cooked all the way through just yet).
4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and 1/2 cup pesto.
5. To assemble shells, spoon 3/4 of the pumpkin ricotta pesto sauce into the bottom of the 12'' HexClad pan. Working with one pasta shell at a time, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture into each shell, placing the filled shell into the pan. Spoon the remaining pumpkin sauce over top of the shells and then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup pesto evenly over everything. Add the mozzarella.
6. Transfer 12'' HexClad pan to oven and bake 15-25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned on top. Cool before serving.
7. Serve with fresh basil and enjoy!