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Unstuffed shells give you the flavor of stuffed shells without all the fuss

Staff, America's Test Kitchen on

Making stuffed shells is a tedious process. On a busy weeknight, no one has time to meticulously stuff each and every individual par-boiled pasta shell. Do yourself a favor and try this recipe for unstuffed shells instead. You’ll thank us later, for time saved and a tummy satisfied.

The base of the dish features butternut squash, leeks, and garlic, while a touch of white wine and heavy cream add a luxurious decadence. Rather than “stuffing” the shells, you’ll simply dollop the dish with cheese before baking until bubbly and golden.

Unstuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Leeks

Serves 4 to 6

Notes: You can substitute large or medium shells, ziti, farfalle, campanelle, or orecchiette for the jumbo shells here. The skillet will be very full when you add the shells in Step 3 (stir gently to start), but will become more manageable as the liquid evaporates and the shells become more malleable. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet for this recipe.

8 ounces (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese


2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


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