Pumpkin Stuffed Shells

One of the things I wanted to illustrate with this dish is how cheaply we can make gourmet-type meals at home. I put the prices for each ingredient in there, as well as the per-meal-breakdown. I feel like it's important to make note of ways we can still feel decadent with our food without increasing the worries our troubling economy has brought. This recipe is one of those, as well as a continuation of my exploration of the joys of pumpkin. I hope you enjoy it.


1/4 cup dried mushrooms (I keep several pounds of assorted dried mushrooms, because they're an excellent value in terms of long-term viability and versatility - in this instance I used black trumpets, so this part cost about 30 cents, as I buy dry mushrooms in bulk)
1/8 cup dried shallot (buy a big bag at any Middle Eastern store for a couple bucks; this cost about 10 cents for this recipe's worth)
1 1/2 cup hot water (penny)
1 teaspoon each: oregano, thyme, basil (free since I grew and dried them)
1/4 teaspoon each: rosemary, paprika, dried galangal or ginger (I used galangal) (couple pennies)
2 peppercorns (penny)
salt (penny)

Simmer it for a couple hours, then immersion blend or blend in normal blender. Return it to the pot and continue to simmer until you're ready to make the shells.


Equal parts pumpkin and ricotta (pumpkin was maybe 50 cents, ricotta was on sale for a big tub for 3 dollars, of which I used half and froze the rest)
1 teaspoon-ish rubbed sage (I grew and dried this, so it was free)
1 large egg (20 cents)
salt and pepper to taste (pennies)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (15-30 cents)
Shells - I usually figure 3 shells per person (on sale for 2.19; I used about half the box)
Mozzarella for the top (optional, ~1 dollar's worth or so)

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook shells according to package directions. Mix together pumpkin, ricotta, egg, salt, pepper and sage. Oil a baking pan. As the shells are done boiling, stuff them with the pumpkin mixture and put them in the pan. Cover in sauce (above) and add cheese to the top, if you're doing that part. Bake 45 minutes, covered, then 15 minutes uncovered.

This cost me about 5.38 to make 18 shells. That's actually three meals for us, since there are only two of us. With some in season sauteed veggies and a salad on the side, I spent another 2 dollars, making the first meal 3.80 and each of the other meals 1.79 each. Even if you have 6 people in your family, you can feed them all a nice meal for just a few dollars, which makes this an excellent value. The per serving cost (3 shells = one serving) is 90 cents.

This picture is not one of my finest (again!), since I actually forgot to take a picture until after I'd already plated and eaten. So uh... yeah. It might look a little off.


  1. I'm detecting a pumpkin theme.

  2. You are correct. Tomorrow brings Dalva's pumpkin soup. :)

  3. These pumpkin stuffed shells sound good!


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