One-Pan Wonders' Unstuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Leeks-Famous Fridays
Unstuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Leeks

If the thought of washing less dishes and still turning out crowd-pleasing dinners appeals to you, then you are going to adore One-Pan Wonders, the new cookbook from the folks at America's Test Kitchen and the subject of today's Famous Fridays post. It's filled with over 100 mouthwatering recipes that only require the use of one (more or less) cooking vessel and result in showstoppers like this one skillet Unstuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Leeks. It's one-pan pasta heaven!!

I have to say that I probably appreciate this book now more than I ever would have. See, for the last few months, I have been living the tragic existence of food blogger and mom without a dishwasher. I know, I know, first world problem, right? I get it, totally. With a kitchen renovation planned, it just seemed a waste to fix a dishwasher we'd be replacing soon. Flash forward 4 months to my dishpan hands!! Actually, it hasn't been that terrible and my husband is an avid washer, but any food I can prepare that requires less pots and pans is a blessing and I've been turning more and more to this terrific new cookbook as the dishwasherless-weeks have gone on!

The book is separated into six categories:  sheet pans, dutch ovens, skillets, roasting pans, casseroles and slow cookers and the recipes are varied, ranging from Skillet Spanikopita to Sheet Pan Fajitas to Mexican-Style Spaghetti Squash Casserole and more. I've tried quite a few of the dishes and all have been great, clearly explained with gorgeous photos, fairly easy to put together and quite quick in the cleanup department. This vegetarian pasta extravaganza is the first in the book, caught my eye and made choosing what to post a snap. Not only does it feature some of my favorites like butternut squash, leeks and ricotta but it's also a little bit unique in the fact that the shells are unstuffed and that there's a hint of lemon running throughout it all. If this is what one-pan eating is like, sign me up!!

And that pan, really skillet but that's only semantics, will get pretty full. As in I-think-it's-going-to-cause-a-kitchen-disaster full! But no worries because once the uncooked shells start to absorb some of the liquid as well as the natural evaporation that occurs, things get a little roomier. Just keep calm and be patient. I promise it'll be ok!

Once it's all boiled together, you top the whole thing with dollops of ricotta and grated Parmesan and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes so that everything gets melty, crusty and browned. Every bite is cheesy, full of the goodness of tender squash and leeks plus chewy pasta in a light sauce. Perfection!!

So for all those busy nights, make it easy on yourself (and your pots and pans) and pick up a copy of One-Pan Wonders. And have a terrific and tasty weekend. We'll be spending it packing up our kitchen and downstairs. I think we're about (gulp!) one week away from the start of our kitchen reno!! More on that next week!!

One-Pan Wonders' Unstuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Leeks-Famous Fridays

Makes at least 6 servings
In order to make this a one-pan meal you need a large oven-safe skillet. If you don't have one, you can just transfer the mixture into a baking dish once the stovetop part is finished.
Prep Time:  Just about an hour


  • 8 ounces part-skin ricotta (you can use full fat if you prefer)
  • About 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes (if you are buying it already cut up it's about 1 1/2 pounds or 5 cups)
  • 1 pound leeks, dark green parts and root tops discarded, halved lengthwise, sliced into thin half moons and rinsed well in a colander
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (or sub in chicken broth)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells

The Recipe

1.  Make sure the rack is centered in the oven and preheat to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, lemon zest and about 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper each. 

2.  In a large skillet (use the biggest you have) over medium heat, heat the oil until very hot. Add the squash, leeks and a pinch or two of salt and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the leeks are soft. Add in the garlic and cayenne and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring. Add the wine or broth and cook for about 1 minute, until the liquid is almost evaporated.

3.  Slowly stir in the water and cream and then add the pasta. The skillet will be very full. Turn the heat up and let the pasta cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring gently and frequently, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thickened. 

4.  If your skillet is not oven-proof, transfer the mixture to a 9x13 casserole dish. Otherwise you can leave it in the skillet. In either case, sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan cheese over the top and then drop spoonfuls of the ricotta over the top trying to space out the dollops evenly. Place the skillet or casserole in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the Parmesan is melted and getting and browned. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes, then serve--careful if you put the skillet in the oven, the handle will be hot!!


Note:  Recipe adapted from One-Pan Wonders by Cooks Country. I subbed in low fat ricotta and left out the sprinkle of basil on top at the end because I didn't have any.

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