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Pumpkin stuffed Shells with Bread Crumb Topping

Ingredients

  • 12-oz box jumbo shells
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted in dry skillet and chopped
  • 1/8 teasp grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 clove minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup soft bread crumbs, lightly toasted in dry skillet
  • 1 teasp minced fresh sge or 1/2 teasp dry
  • Italian parsley for garnish

Instructions

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, almonds, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of lightly-salted water to a boil. Select 18 unbroken, uncracked pasta shells. Add shells one at a time to the past water, keeping it boiling. Stir carefully. Cook for around 11 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure none of the shells stick together or to the bottom. When the pasta is done, instead of just draining it, put the whole pot in the sink and let cold water run into it until all the water is cool (all this fuss over the shells helps keep them intact). Lightly oil a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Stuff each shell with about 2 TBS of the pumpkin mixture. Arrange them, open side up, not touching, in the baking dish. (the open sides on mine all wanted to be at a 45 degree angle, but that worked). Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Either while the pasta is cooking or while the stuffed shells are in the oven, toast the breadcrumbs and in a separate skillet, melt the butter. Heat the butter until it just begins to brown, but not burn. Stir in the garlic, and cook for just a minute or two. Remove from the heat and combine it with the breadcrumbs and sage; mix thoroughly. When the shells are done cooking, arrange them by threes or fours on individual small plates, and top each shell with a teaspoon of the crumb mixture. Garnish with a parsley sprig. (because my shells all came out at a 45 degree angle, I arranged four of them on each plate to "face" each other, and put the parsley in the middle. The crumb mixture had to be pretty carefully spooned onto the top) Note: I used pumpkin puree from some sugar pumpkins I had roasted. I cut two smaller-than-basketball-sized pumpkins into halves and scooped out the seeds and pith. I roasted them skin-side-down at 400 degrees in a covered 9x13 pan with an inch or so of water in the bottom for about an hour. Then, I poured off the water and baked them uncovered for a final 15 minutes. Once they'd cooled enough to handle, I scooped out the flesh and pureed it in a blender.

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