I know this recipe from Food Network magazine doesn't sound right. Pumpkin?! But the truth is this is a great way to sneak another vegetable into your diet, because it tastes great and looks beautiful. Give it a try!
I actually made my own ricotta using another Food Network recipe, which I'll include here, but store-bought is fine. The ricotta recipe said it would make 3 cups, but it made about 1.5 cups, so this cheese-making process, which is new to me, may be unpredictable. It was quite easy, though, and it allowed me to use milk from a local farmer that literally names all his cows.
24 jumbo pasta shells
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2.5 cups (22 oz.) ricotta cheese (recipe below, or choose a nice organic brand, like Organic Valley)
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 c. plus 2 T. (2.5 oz.) Parmesan or pecorino Romano, grated
1 large egg white
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. fresh basil, chopped
1 T. fresh sage, finely chopped (optional - I used about 1/2 t. dried sage, because I wasn't sure if I would like the taste. Turns out at this amount, I couldn't even taste it.)
1 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
1 26-oz. jar tomato pasta sauce
Cook the pasta shells according to package instructions, then drain. Drizzle with the oil, and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, stir together the ricotta, pumpkin, 3/4 c. Parmesan or pecorino Romano, egg white, garlic, basil, sage, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread all the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 3 T. ricotta mixture and arrange in baking dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the shells with the remaining 2 T. Parmesan or pecorino Romano, and bake for 15 minutes more.
Serves 6 - 8.
1/2 gallon whole milk
1 t. kosher salt
3 T. lemon juice
Line a metal colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, then set the colander in a bowl.
In a large pot over high heat, bring the milk and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add lemon juice, and stir until curds form (1 - 2 minutes).
Using a slotted spoon or small strainer, transfer curds to colander. Let drain 1 - 2 minutes.
Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. (This is supposed to make 3 cups, but I got about 1.5 cups.)