Ok so I’ll admit it – I was worried about this recipe.
Some backstory, my last CSA of the season (sob!) came this week and included a small amount of sweet potatoes, about a pound’s worth.
I knew I was going to use them as the “featured ingredient” in whatever dinner I made, plus I definitely wanted to keep this vegetarian. Ideally, I was also still trying to keep it somewhat fresh and unexpected. And what’s more unexpected than stuffing it in jumbo pasta shells right? (And if it’s not, shh – let me have my moment).
Plus with the roasting kick that I continue to be on it just seemed to make sense.
As I was making this, I definitely had moments of “Hmm…hope this turns out alright” reinforced by my husband’s repeated questions of, “You’re doing what? You’re using what as the filling?”
When we first sat down to eat it was a total fingers crossed type of deal (as in, we really didn’t want to have to go out or heat up canned soup) but this dish works, like amazingly works.
It’s totally delicious and I’m not exaggerating. By roasting them all together then mashing them brings out the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes, garlic and onions (plus you only need to use one pan, yay). Pair this sweet savoriness as the counterpoint to the acidity of the tomato sauce and round it all out with the salty creaminess of the variety of cheeses and you end up with something truly amazing.
I mean I was completely ready to go out to eat, but when my husband suggests that I make a dish for guests, I know it’s something good.
I’ll admit this meal is a bit carb heavy (hello sweet potatoes and pasta!) so I highly recommend serving a veggie heavy side salad to really round it out and a vegetable laden pasta sauce for the top would be ideal.
Tip – This recipe make a total of 20 stuffed shells for 4 servings of 5 shells each. You could easily stretch this out to at least 5 servings by just bumping up the size of the side salad. In fact, the next time I make it I’d probably make 5 servings out of it anyway, it’s a lot of pasta.
- 20 large pasta shells, cooked 2 - 3 minutes short of package directions (ex: it says 11 minutes for al dente so cook for 7 - 8 minutes since shells will continue to cook as they're baked)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 medium onion, ends cut off then cut into big wedges
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and root end cut off but otherwise left whole
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (more if you like it with more of a kick)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup reduced fat feta
- 1/2 cup fat free cream cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded reduced fat provolone, divided
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan
- 2 cups fat free pasta sauce or marinara (if you have homemade sauce even better)
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Toss sweet potatoes, onion and garlic together with olive oil. Pour onto sprayed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through until sweet potatoes or soft (you may need to bake an additional 5 - 10 minutes).
- Reduce oven heat to 375.
- Mash together sweet potatoes and garlic. (I actually ended up using my potato ricer for the sweet potatoes and garlic to make it extra fluffy). Mince onions finely and mix in. Season with Italian seasoning, nutmeg, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper. Stir in feta, cream cheese, half of the provolone and Parmesan. Taste and adjust any seasoning (more Italian seasoning? more nutmeg? more crushed red pepper?).
- Using a spoon or pipping bag, fill stuffed shells with sweet potato mix placing each completed shell in a baking pan. Spoon pasta sauce over shells and top with remaining provolone (or if you're like me and only have sliced provolone, dice the slices into small squares and sprinkle on top).
- Bake at 375 for 25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melty. Serve and enjoy!