Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Sage Béchamel

Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Sage Béchamel

Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Shells in Pumpkin BechamelJanuary requires comfort foods and pasta falls squarely into that category. But I’m rather tired of red sauce. So, when I set out to make stuffed shells the other day, I decided to try something new.

I know pumpkin is considered a fall flavor, but I think it’s pretty delicious year round. And I thought that pumpkin and ricotta would make lovely bedfellows. Not to mention the excellent nutritional value. A rich pumpkin béchamel sauce ladled over sausage mushroom stuffed shells. Yes, I think that defines “comfort food” quite nicely.

sausage and mushroom stuffed shellsTo be honest, I had planned for this dish to be very healthy, protein packed and low fat. But when I got to the grocery store, I discovered that they didn’t have any Italian chicken or turkey sausage. And that pretty much popped my low fat balloon. But I certainly wasn’t going to abandon my dish. I was already sold on the flavors.

Full fat sausage it was. After I browned the sausage in my skillet, I drained the fat and placed the meat on a layer of paper towels. And using my full body weight, I pressed on it to get as much of the fat off the meat as I could. Because I only wanted the flavor, not all of the excess fat.

stuffed shells with pumpkin bechamelAnd you might wonder why I bothered fretting over the fat when I was going to smother it in a béchamel sauce anyway. You certainly would have a point, except that my thickening agents are Greek yogurt and part-skim ricotta. A protein packed, nutrient dense sauce that will fool anyone who takes a bite into thinking that it’s full of butter and cream. It’s that rich.

I would almost bill this as a health food if it weren’t for the Italian sausage. Sure, you could omit that, but I wouldn’t suggest it. It tastes so incredibly good with the pumpkin béchamel sauce baked on top. Just add an extra mile to the treadmill workout. It’s completely worth it.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Sage Béchamel
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 10
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Mushroom and sausage stuffed shells in a deceptively rich pumpkin béchamel sauce thickened with Greek yogurt and part-skim ricotta cheese.
  • 1 lb pasta shells, cooked al dente
Cheese Filling
  • 32oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ⅔ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Sausage Mushroom Filling
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
Pumpkin Sage Béchamel Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin is just fine)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ⅓ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated for topping (use more or less to taste)
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan, egg, salt and fresh ground black pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, brown sausage. Remove from skillet and place meat on paper towels to drain. Reserve 1 Tbsp of the fat to cook the onions in.
  3. Cook onions in fat over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and cook for just a minute. Add mushrooms and sage and cook for another four to five minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes.
  4. Stuff shells with ricotta mixture and then top with sausage mushroom mixture. Place shells in a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside while you prepare béchamel sauce.
  5. In a large heavy pot melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook for several minutes. Add milk, pumpkin, yogurt, Parmesan and ricotta. Cook this for four to five minutes over medium heat to thicken. Add sage, salt and black pepper. Mix to combine and take off of heat.
  6. Pour béchamel sauce over shells. Top with extra grated Parmesan. Bake at 350º for forty minutes.


  1. What a delicious sounding and beautiful looking recipe!! I love stuffed shells, sausage and mushroom too as well as pumpkin spice but I would have never put it together in such a way. I appreciate the lower fat options you included with the yogurt and part-skim ricotta, great ideas! I can’t wait to try this Melanie!

    • Thanks! It doesn’t taste over pumpkiny. The pumpkin just gives it a nice earthy flavor. Hard to explain, but very yummy.

  2. This one makes me drool! One problem – my mom’s on weight watchers. Do you have any suggestions on how I could lighten up this recipe? Thanks Mel!

    • If you just eliminate the sausage and use low fat yogurt and cheese, it will help. That said, this is certainly a carb heavy dish and you can only lighten it up so much.

  3. JUST what I was looking for with family coming on Sunday for Pats game! They know stuffed shells is my “go to”/”do ahead for company” meal. Let them be a little surprised! But may the Pats NOT be surprised!

  4. OH MY. I love the idea of the greek yogurt as the cream piece of the bechamel sauce. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Did you find the ricotta needed to balance flavor or could I just use the greek yogurt?

    • You are very intuitive. Yes, I used the ricotta to balance out the tang of the yogurt. When you make the sauce, the tanginess will stand out even with the added ricotta. BUT, when you cook in in the oven, it really mellows out and the flavors meld together. No one will be the wiser. 🙂

  5. Oooh, this looks so good! It’s a little hot over here for this at the moment but it’s going in the pile of things to make once it starts cooling down.

  6. This looks so incredibly scrumptious! Ricotta is really really hard to find here. Do you have any recommended substitutes?

    • I would imagine any soft mild cheese would work. A farmer’s cheese or even cottage cheese would be fine to substitute. 🙂

    • You can also make ricotta by scratch. It is absolutely delicious and this allows you to control the fat content and the salt level. It’s so good, you could eat it with a spoon. Just don’t buy ultra-pasteurized milk because it won’t work for making cheese.

  7. This looks absolutely amazing!!! I cannot wait to try this! Yummy!!! Thanks for the awesome recipe! 🙂

  8. This is totally a drool-worthy recipe! LOVE the creative flavour combinations, it’s so nice to see this dish without a red sauce. Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to test it out myself!


  9. Just discovered your site- and these have me drooling!!!!

  10. I really love the way this dish looks (and sounds)

  11. You may want to add instructions about how to prepare the sausage. We got stuck halfway into the recipe. We just decided to dice it.

  12. We made this on Monday evening. It took forever to make, but it was absolutely delectable. I’d say this was one of the top 10 dishes we’ve made in our 18 years of marriage. Thank you for the post.

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