Kabocha and Pesto Stuffed Shells with Ground Chicken

Friday, October 9, 2020

Kabocha and Pesto Stuffed Shells with Ground Chicken

Servings: 6-8

Prep time: 20

Cook time: 30


  • 1/2 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup kabocha squash puree (about 1/2 the squash since they are small)
  • 1 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese, grated
  • 1 cup mozarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 15-16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup prepared pesto
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, minced
  • 2-3 leaves kale, or chard, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced - save this for last
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Prep and have all the ingredients ready so putting this together is a breeze!
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a casserole dish. Set aside.
  3. Start a pot of water and bring to a boil, while you begin prepping the ground chicken mixture.
  4. To the ground chicken, add the onion, bell pepper, sliced greens, oregano, sage, marjoram and pepper flakes. Mix well. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a non stick skillet and brown the chicken spiced mixture until thoroughly cooked.
  5. When the shells are almost done, drain and leave in a collander.
  6. Add the milk/half and half mixture and heat through, tasting for seasonings and adjust to your liking. Continue to simmer on low till the mixture is slightly thickened.
  7. In a mixing bowl, add the ricotta, 1/2 cup pesto, 1/2 the mozarella and fontina, and the sliced greens, mix well. Spoon into the cooked shells and place in your casserole dish, till all are done.
  8. Pour the meat/sauce mixture over the shells. Take the rest of the pesto and using a spoon, drizzle over the shells. Mix the rest of the cheese together and sprinkle over the entire dish.
  9. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and the cheese is browning. Remove from the oven and top with the sliced basil and allow the dish to cool for 5 minutes before serving.


You can substitute different types of squash for totally different flavor profiles, try pumpkin or butternut. Leave the pesto out - add some marinara sauce. The variations can be whatever you like!

I draw inspiration from a lot of recipe sites, this one was inspired by Half Baked Harvest and Cooking with NY Times.  It sounded great, but unless i simply cannot make do with what's in my freezer, I adapt and make things with what is on hand.  

Early this year, at the beginning of covid, I joined a local CSA from Big BranchValley Farm.  Our area already has an amazing farmer's market, but the uncertainty of what was going to happen with things, I thought this would be a great option.  We were also in the beginnings of building our own garden, not because of covid, but it's just something we have always had the past 15 years, and this house we bought in 2019 had nothing in place.

Soooo...the kabocha was from BBVF, I had actually never heard of these types of squashes before, and when they showed up - I brought home several and then looked for recipes I could use them in.  I would say the flavor is not like pumpkin at all, but really a milder sweeter taste.  They seemed perfect for this recipe.


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