Cook the shells in water with 2 Tbsp. olive oil according to the package directions for al dente. (You don't want to overcook them or they will be difficult to handle when filling. Also, the olive oil in the water while cooking prevents the shells from sticking to each other after draining, which makes the filling process much easier).
While the noodles are cooking, proceed with the "For Onions" set of directions below.
When the shells are done, drain them and run cold water over them until they are no longer hot to the touch, then lay them open side down on baking sheets lined with wax paper or parchment paper until you're ready to fill them (this will help get rid of any excess water and make them easier to handle while filling).
At this point, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9"x13" baking dish with butter.
In a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter, then add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and lightly browned (about 5 minutes).
Add the cardamom, ginger, salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to prevent charring. Set aside and make the pumpkin cheese mixture.
For Pumpkin Cheese Mixture:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, Parmesan-Romano cheese, pumpkin puree, sage and egg until everything is thoroughly combined. Add the onion mixture in and mix until everything is combined. Set aside while you make the cheese sauce.
For Cheese Sauce:
Everything happens quickly with this sauce, so it's important to have all of your ingredients and measuring cups/spoons ready by the stove.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes, then add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute, until the mixture has browned a bit.
Add the milk in slowly and gradually, whisking constantly, until everything is well-mixed and smooth (about 2 minutes). Then, add the half and half and both cheeses and continue to whisk constantly until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth. Note: If the mixture is too thick for your liking, add a bit more milk. In the photo above, I used the exact measurements listed in the ingredients list above.
Spread 3/4 cup of the cheese sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Stuff the shells with about 1+1/2 Tbsp. of filling each. Note - I wasn't able to use all of the shells as I ran out of room in the pan. I still recommend cooking the entire box or at least most of it, as inevitably some of them break during the cooking/draining process and broken shells are difficult or impossible to stuff.
Note: I fill a pastry bag and pipe the filling into the shells. This always works out far better for me than trying to scoop the filling in with a spoon. Also, I fill the shells on the parchment-lined baking sheets, then transfer into the baking dish.
Place the filled shells into the prepared 9" x 13" baking dish and then spoon the remaining cheese sauce evenly over them. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes-30 minutes, until slightly browned. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle some additional chopped sage on top of the shells for presentation, if desired.
**NOTE: This recipe is NOT Low FODMAP and is NOT approved for IBS and/or GERD/Acid Reflux/Heartburn**
Welcome! I'm Meredith - a wife and mom of two fur-children trying to balance an intense love of food with a desire to be healthy. Read More →