Pumpkin Stuffed shells

20 jumbo pasta shells
4 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 T. garlic
1 bag baby spinach, washed, rinsed, long stems removed and chopped
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 1/3 cups shredded cheddar (It’s possible that I used closer to 2 cups)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup roasted, pureed pumpkin
Parsley for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees


In a large pot, cook the pasta shells in boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and rinse, then spread out on a sheet pan so they don’t stick together while the rest of the dish comes together. Set the pot aside and do not wash.


In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and 2 T of butter until the butter melts. Add the diced onion, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the ground beef. Cook until no longer pink, breaking up any large pieces with your spoon. Add the spinach to the pan and toss to combine until wilted. Stir in 1/2 cup of the shredded cheddar. Set aside.


In the pasta pot, melt 2 T. Butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in 1/2 cup milk unitl it is smooth, then add the rest of the milk. Bring to a boil, whixking constantly. Let boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and remaining shredded cheddar.


Cover the bottom of a greased baking dish wiht 1/2 cup of the  pumpkin sauce. Stuff the cooked shells with beef mixture and place them in the prepared pan with the openings facing down. Spoon the remaining cheese sauce over the shells. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking. Sprinkle with chopped parsley just before serving.


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