Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yet, I never get around to carving one.

I love pumpkin. Love it. I have no real idea why, either. Maybe because I love fall, and that's the only time I get to have all the specialty pumpkin stuff.

Seriously, it's ridiculous. From October to December, I eat Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter with my breakfast pretty much very morning (great on everything from waffles to cottage on both together), relish my Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, and actually get excited when I see things like Dreyer's new Pumpkin Double Churned ice cream (it will be mine).

But pumpkin doesn't have to be banished to breakfast/dessert. When I was in my pasta-eating heyday, I once ordered pumpkin ravioli at the Il Fornaio restaurant on Coronado Island. And. almost. died. Unbelievable. And because I recreate things, I went home and got to work.

I used to be a badass and make my own pasta for this, but it's a lot of work and mess, and unless you have all afternoon to spend on it, not really worth it (though you can also use wonton wrappers, and that speeds it up). So I switched to stuffing manicotti or jumbo shells awhile ago. The problem now, however, is that those are both really hard to find in gluten-free options, so it's been over 3 years since I've been able to make it.

Until now. The craving got the better of me the other night, and it was decided pumpkin pasta was happening for Halloween. And while the scavenger hunt wasn't bump-free, I finally found my plan C...gluten-free lasagna noodles, which become pasta rolls in a pinch. Lots of them, which makes it unfortunate the husband doesn't feel the same way about pumpkin that I do.

Oh, well...more for me and my mama, who is visiting this weekend and more than happy to help.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Stuffed Shells
One box jumbo shells (or manicotti)
About a cup cooked pureed pumpkin*
1 large shallot, minced
olive oil
1 container low-fat ricotta
1 egg
salt and pepper (large pinch of each)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
large pinch sage
About 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Container light alfredo sauce
1% milk, about a 1/4 cup
Chopped parley for garnish

*I used pumpkin pie-ready canned pumpkin. If you use regular pumpkin, add a large pinch of nutmeg to the recipe.

Cook the shells according to package directions for al dente (not quite completely cooked). Drain.

Saute the shallot in a splash of olive oil for about 3 minutes or until soft. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Add pumpkin, ricotta, egg, parmesan, salt, pepper and sage to the shallots and mix well.

In large baking dish coated with cooking spray, pour about a half cup of alfredo sauce and spread it evenly across the bottom of the dish. Pour the rest of the sauce in a small bowl, and mix in milk and about half the chopped walnuts.

Fill the cooked shells with pumpkin mixture. It'll be messy, have fun with it. As you fill them, line them up in the baking dish to make them all fit as best you can. When you're done, cover the shells with the alfredo-walnut sauce. Sprinkle the rest of the chopped walnuts evenly across the top.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until a little bubbly. Sprinkle with a bit of parsley before serving. Serves 8. De-licious.

As a Halloween treat, I'm not going to tell you how many calories are in these. Just enjoy.

(Ok, if you need to know, about 315 cals, 11g fat, 4g fiber, 11g protein, 42g carbs)

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