Food / Main Dishes / Vegetarian

Healthy Stuffed Pasta Shells

stuffed pasta shells 6

I had been craving stuffed shells earlier this week, but I felt that I should make something healthy for the blog this weekend. I was a little careless (reckless, actually) this week when my co-worker shared half of her salted caramel donut with me, and then there was that day of the business meeting where I ate five donut holes, and then a fruit explosion muffin, and then on Friday my other co-worker ordered pizza for lunch…BAD WEEK, DANA.

I then realized that I had a spaghetti squash that I hadn’t yet used, but I’m pretty tired of seeing spaghetti squash used as an alternative to spaghetti because who is kidding who? Spaghetti squash is delicious, but it is NOT NOODLES!

Kristen Wiig says you’re only going to eat spaghetti as spaghetti and you’re going to like it.

So, I envisioned smashing both my craving for stuffed shells and my need to use up my spaghetti squash into one idea. The verdict? DAYYYYYUM. Can that be a proper answer? That’s my answer. 


 This recipe calls for a decent amount of prep, but it’s oh so worth it. It’s also a recipe that leaves room for adaptations. I think this would be great with a spinach and artichoke type of filling. I’m definitely going to give that a whirl at some point.

But for now, how about you give this one a whirl, eh? EH?

stuffed pasta shells

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stuffed pasta shells 4

stuffed pasta shells 5

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 This recipe is a bit long, so if you notice any mistakes or missed steps, just call me out on it so I can fix it.

Healthy Spaghetti Squash Stuffed Shells with Cauliflower Cream Sauce

Course Entree or Side
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Author Dana Blacklock at Killing Thyme


  • 20 pasta shells
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 1 cup of fresh spinach julienned
  • 1 small zucchini grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4 oz grated romano cheese
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 heads of cauliflower cut into florets
  • 2 tbsp . of butter
  • 5 cloves large of garlic minced
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice from half of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp . of onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp . of sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp . of ground black pepper
  • 2 900 ml boxes of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of unsweetened and unflavoured almond milk
  • 4 oz of fresh romano cheese grated
  • Chives
  • Large baking dish
  • Blender
  • Tinfoil


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Poke the spaghetti squash several times with a knife.
  • Bake for approx. 50 minutes or until the squash is tender and can easily be poked with a fork (see notes).
  • Once cooked, allow the squash to cool a bit before handling it.
  • Remove from the microwave (I wore my oven mitts just to be safe!)
  • On a cutting board, slice the squash in half.
  • With a fork, shred the squash and place the shredding into a large bowl. Avoid the seeds; they should be easy to work around.
  • Add the grated zucchini, diced tomato, basil, oregano, onion powder and grated romano cheese.
  • Mix with a large spoon until everything is evenly combined.
  • Season with sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  • With a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer.
  • Add the cauliflower florets and cook until tender - approx. 7 minutes.
  • With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the florets to a blender.
  • In a saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat.
  • Add the minced garlic, and saute until fragrant - approx. 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the butter and garlic to the blender with the cauliflower florets.
  • Add the lemon juice, onion powder, sea salt, ground black pepper, and almond milk.
  • Blend until you've got a smooth, silky puree.
  • Pour 1/2 cup worth of the sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place the pasta shells in the leftover vegetable stock.
  • Bring to a boil and cook the noodles to al dente - approx. 5-7 minutes.
  • With a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta shells to a large bowl. Don't rinse.
  • When the shells have cooled off a bit, spoon a tablespoons worth of the squash mixture into the shells, and then place them into the baking dish.
  • Once all of the shells are stuffed and placed into the baking dish, pour the rest of the cauliflower cream sauce on top. Spread it out evenly.
  • Garnish with 4 oz of grated romano cheese.
  • Cover with tinfoil and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, and then remove foil.
  • Bake uncovered for 13 minutes.
  • For the remaining 2 minutes, put it under the broiler to brown the cheese up a bit (OPTIONAL)
  • When done, garnish with fresh chives and serve.


Typically people cut their squash lengthwise before cooking it. Mine would not slice open for the life of me - probably because I'd refrigerated it for a few days. There are two methods to cook a spaghetti squash - by baking in the oven or by heating in the microwave. If you choose to heat it in the microwave, poke it with a knife all over and nuke it for approx. 12 minutes.



  • Anna (Hidden Ponies)
    March 21, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I love stuffed shells but am admittedly far too lazy to make them often :) These look worth the work though – so many good things in those little shells!

      March 21, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      I know that feeling, Anna. Haha. The great thing about this recipe is that it makes a lot, and because they are guilt-free, you can just eat them all up for meals until they are gone. These made great lunches to take to work for a few days. Definitely worth the work if you have a morning or afternoon with no plans!

  • suki
    March 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    :) amazing recipe :) looks so good!

      March 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks so much, Suki!

  • Annie
    March 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Definitely going to make this soon!

      March 20, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Awesome! Let me know how it goes :)

  • Thao @ In Good Flavor
    March 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    I miss Krsiten, and Seth, and Bill, and Jason, and Fred on SNL (think I got them all). I love your healthy shells and unique use of spaghetti squash, Dana. I too have had too many of those bad weeks and not enough of those good ones, food-wise!

      March 12, 2015 at 8:51 am

      Hey Thao! Have you watched The Skeleton Twins with Kristen and Bill? It’s somewhat of a dark film, though still funny at parts, but it’s awesome. I definitely recommend it. It’s just very…real. And Kristen and Bill are both absolutely adorable in it.

      Thanks so much for the comment! I’ve been trying to be good this week. Trying. It’s so hard when there is so much good food out there though, you know? Haha. But it’s so important to treat ourselves once in a while.

      I think I’m going to try to come up with some more guilt-free recipes, though. It’s nice when you can feel like you’re indulging even if you’re not.

  • CakePants
    March 8, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Healthy stuffed shells?! Sign me up! Healthy food disguised as comfort food is the best! :)

      March 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      I couldn’t agree more! ;)


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