Pasta, Pizza, Risotto

Kale, Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

Loreto December 18, 2017

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Kale, Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi, is a dish that has beautiful layers of flavor and texture. It is taken yet to an even greater level with the addition of tomato sauce and cheese baked till those oh so wonderful edges and cheese become crispy and golden!

Song of the day: Crazy Love by Van Morrison.

Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

Kale, Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi, a dish that is elegant, and has the flavors and textures to carry it through. Want to have an Italian dinner or with a nice twist? Give this dish a try, it is melt-in-your-mouth good!



Kale has come to be known as a superfood, whether raw in a salad or boiled and sauteed, or combined to form the filling for this wonderful pasta, it has become one of our favorite greens that we look forward to every week. This recipe is inspired by Nicoletta’s father Franco, and his courage to go beyond the traditional Italian cooking.

A few years ago I met Nicoletta’s parents and fell in love with them. Their giving nature, making me feel like part of the family,  and respect for food made me feel right at home. At first, I watched as Franco who does most of the cooking make wonderful Italian dishes, pasta, fish, and verdure (greens) one of his specialties. Franco has a passion for the land, working it and producing the most succulent, substantial delicious produce I have ever tasted. As time went by, I was allowed to cook. First starting with the traditional dishes, then slowly introducing different spices and ethnic dishes to the mix. I was pleasantly surprised that they were well received and appreciated, as I know the pride that is involved when talking la cucina Italiana  (the Italian kitchen). It was nice to see that a store close to my inlaws carried ginger, and that Franco was quite accepting to purchase and try it. To this day it is in their fridge and I love hearing that Franco uses it quite often, and even in teas when the mighty winter bug comes to play and colds start to flair up. I think I can speak for both Nicoletta and I that when we hear anyone get inspired by what we do, it makes us feel fullfilled and happy, especially if we have inspired an old schooled Italian.

One morning while talking with her parents, I overheard the conversation of food. In particular a pasta dish Franco made. I was quite pulled in because Nicoletta was saying things like “wow” and “I am so impressed” in Italian of course. I was so curious as to hear what he had made. Nicoletta told me that her dad made these stuffed pasta shells filled with squash, spinach, and ricotta cheese and that he had used some turmeric  to bring an interesting flavor twist to the mix. I was quite impressed and even commented that Franco had become quite the chef and was so happy to here that we had inspired him to think out of the box.

Nicoletta and I decided that we had to try this recipe, and knowing squash was in abundance at the farmers markets, we were excited to try this dish. Naturally, adding our own little twist to the mix! Kale instead of spinach, and buttercup squash instead of the zucca that Franco grows so well in his garden. I have also given him some good squash soup ideas to inspire him even further.

Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

We have never used buttercup squash before and on inspiration from the girls of Sunrise Gardens we were intrigued to use it for this Kale, Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi. We also found these lovely snail-shaped pasta at Home Sense. I love this store, it has some really good stuff, don’t they look beautiful and look at that wonderful pouch, just what we need to house the incredible filling. Preparing the squash is easy, cut in half, a splash of olive oil, some seasoning of salt, pepper, turmeric, thyme, and yellow curry. Into the oven it goes and that is it. Look at the color of this buttercup squash it is so deep, I can’t wait to taste it!

Kale, Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi,  here we come!

Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

To get the creamy rich consistency we used a good quality ricotta. We find here in Edmonton the store bought ricotta is quite granular, but once in a while we stumble upon a gem that has that consistency and texture that we so love. Is it like the ricotta in Italy? No, but it is close. The brand is called Saluti which we usually find at The Italian Centre shop, but we have also found it at Safeway, and Sobeys at times. With kale blanched, and squash roasted, we are ready to pull this filling together. It looks so good and creamy, and yes I tasted it, oooh that squash is so sweet and rich, I think we need a bit more Grana Padano to balance out the flavor and the ricotta was the cream of the crop which brought all the ingredients together in a wonderful harmony.

All we need to do is slightly cook the lumaconi. You don’t want to totally cook them as filling them would be a great challenge, plus if we are baking this dish in the oven it would overcook the pasta, an Italian catastrophe, OMG! The tomato sauce is made with canned D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes. I love this type of tomato it is so sweet and comes from the Napoli area close to Mount Vesuvius. I always thought that type of volcanic soil always produces the sweetest flavored tomato, kind of ironic, Alanis Morissette could have used this analogy in her song. I am so excited to put this together. I am thinking the tomato sauce will be such a nice counterbalance to the rich creamy filling and that Grana Padano will give a nice melted kick.

Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

It looks so beautiful going into the oven and looked equally delicious and wonderful coming out. The colors so enticing and those nice baked crunchy bits are calling me. This pasta is wonderful to plate, so delicate yet so rustically elegant.

Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

That sauce has such a rich sheen to it and with those sprigs of melted Grana has my mouth watering. Look at that filling so velvety and creamy, I can’t wait, I am going in!

Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

The aroma of the tomatoes is so acidic and sweet at the same time, and that Grana with its aged brilliance just enhances the fact. The squash with that turmeric and yellow curry wafting in like exotic dancers is so wonderful and the pasta intact and beautifully shaped. Nicoletta and I are so proud of how these have turned out!

Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

I sink my teeth in and the nuttiness of the pasta comes through with a nice texture, firm yet not too crunchy. The sauce just bathes the pasta in such a vibrant rich way and leads you to the wonderful filling that is heaven-sent to your tongue. The squash sweet nutty almost “yammish” in its color, texture, and flavor, marries well blended with the creaminess of the ricotta. The curry and turmeric come in with this subtle yet exotic sultriness, and those notes of the Grana Padano help balance all the diverse flavors. The kale adds a beautiful earthiness to the mix and with its texture so tender and plump makes for interesting and delightful bites through in and throughout.

Italian food is about taste, texture, but more so, food for Italians is a social affair, and if you have ever been invited to an Italian family meal, you are welcomed with open arms and a mom or nonna saying “eat, eat! mangia, mangia!”

I am so grateful to my mother and father in-law, Tonina and Franco, for making me feel special and part of their lives, and also for accepting my multicultural culinary ideas. It is even more special to me that I have inspired them to experiment and live outside the box a bit when it comes to cooking. So to show our gratitude Nicoletta and I dedicate this recipe to Franco for his love of cooking and courage to live outside his norm, and also to Tonina for loving what we make and appreciating who we are!

Everyone at the table, LET’S EAT!

Buon Appetito!

Song of the day: Crazy Love by Van Morrison.

Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

Kale, Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

  • Author: Loreto
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: Italian


Kale, Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi, is a dish that has beautiful layers of flavor and texture. It is taken yet to an even greater level with the addition of tomato sauce and cheese baked till those oh so wonderful edges and cheese become crispy and golden!


For the squash:

  • 1 buttercup squash ( or any other medium-size squash)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 small cipollini onions, halved
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp yellow curry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons e.v.o. oil

For the tomato sauce:

  • 300 ml of canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • some freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh broken basil

For the filling:

  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked kale (or green of your choice like spinach, swiss chard, etc).
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted squash
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For topping:

  • 1/4 cup grated Grana Padano


Roasted Squash:

  1. Cut squash in half,  clean out pulp and seeds. Sprinkle with olive oil, season with turmeric, thyme, yellow curry, salt, and pepper. Place garlic and halved onions in each half.
  2. Place squash flesh side down ensuring garlic and onion stay in the center under the squash. Place in a 375° F oven and bake for 25 minutes or until fork tender.
  3. Take out of oven scoop out flesh and mash in a bowl. Set aside to cool.

Tomato sauce:

  • In a saucepan heat up olive oil and garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle, place tomatoes in squishing them and breaking them with your hands into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, break some basil inside. Let simmer for 20-25 minutes, take off heat and set aside.


  • In a bowl combine mashed squash, chopped kale, ricotta, grated Grana Padano, olive oil, salt pepper. Mix well and set aside.


  • In a large pot bring water to boil. Sprinkle some coarse sea salt and taste for saltiness.
  • Place lumaconi in and cook for about 5-6 minutes (about 3/4 of the suggested cooking time).
  • Drain pasta and let cool a bit placing lumaconi on a baking sheet so they don’t stick together.


  • With a small teaspoon, scoop some of the filling and place inside the lumaconi until the cavity is filled and some filling oozes out.
  • Place filled lumaconi into a greased 9’x14′ baking dish. Continue this process until all the lumaconi are stuffed and the baking dish is full.
  • Spoon the tomato sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the grated Grana.
  • Cover with tin foil.


  • Place covered dish in 375° F oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until top becomes melted, golden and crispy on the edges
  • Take out of oven and serve. Enjoy!


  • You could use a piping bag to fill the pasta.
  • Remember you can use any other green, provided it is cooked first.
  • Also, you can use other types of squash other than spaghetti as it is more moist and could cause filling to be too runny.
  • To save time you can make the tomato sauce and cook the kale as the squash is roasting, or even make the squash and kale the day before.
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Kale Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Lumaconi

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  • Avatar
    Reply Ayngelina (@Ayngelina) December 18, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I love how you remind me that I’ve only eaten just a tiny fraction of all the Italian dishes pasta, just more reasons to go back!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 19, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Hi Ayngelina, I love how these dishes just surface from the kitchen of home cooks in Italy, and just when you thought you have tried them all, out comes another one. Goota love that all this food calls us back to a land of passion, culture and beaty.
      Thanks for commenting.
      Happy Tuesday to you!
      Ciao Loreto

  • Avatar
    Reply Dawn @ Girl Heart Food December 18, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    I love those crispy edges! My favourite favourite part. I remember making cabbage rolls way back when and that was one of my favourite things about it! Same thing when Brussels sprouts get all crispy – so good! Beautiful dish, as usual, you guys!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you Dawn, yes thank goodness for crispy bitys whatever they may be, and when the pasta and those strands of grana melt then bubble to a crispy golden hue, you know there is going to be a fork fight . Thank good for four sides to a baking dis, lol.
      Thanks a million for checking this pasta dish out.

  • Avatar
    Reply Alicia Taylor at December 19, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Wow! This looks like an intensive dish, but would definitely be worth the effort. I have made stuffed shells before, but haven’t heard of this pasta shape.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 19, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Alicia, yes this pasta has such beatiful shape and it holds so well which is a bonus for stuffing. The curry and tumeric play wonderfully with the buttercup squash and that sauce just brightens this dish with a bit of acidic sweetness.
      Thank you for taking time to comment.Happy cooking.

  • Avatar
    Reply Dominique| Perchance to Cook December 19, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Oh wow… I love Italian food and pasta and am so excited to have found a new dish to try! These flavors sound so great together and like they just melt together. Deeeelicious!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Thank you Dominique, it was trulyt delicious and melt in your mouth. From the time we heard about this recipe from Nicoletta’sfather in Italy to the time we actually tasted it was shear excitment and craving. We were not dissappionted in the least. If you love Ital;ian food and have a fondness for pasta, this is definately a dish to try.
      Happy Holidays!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jenni December 19, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    These look tasty. I bet the texture of the filling is so creamy!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Jenni, you are correct on that note, the filling with the mixture of roasted buttercup squash and ricotta plus all those wonderful seasoning and the Grana Padano, it is nothing but a recipe for success mingled with that rich tsty tomato sauce and those beauts of Lumaconi shells. Thanks for commenting.
      Have a wonderful wee!

  • Avatar
    Reply Nicola @ Happy Healthy Motivated December 20, 2017 at 5:38 am

    I love, love, LOVE baked pasta dishes. Especially ones made a little healthier by filling them with lots of veggies. This would be perfect for cuddling up with on a chilly night.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 20, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Nicola, Nicoleta and I are so with you on baked pasta dishes. Pasta al forno is one of our favorite go to recipes to finish up some fresh boccomcini and tomato sauce. You just gotta love all those flavors and the pasta melding together in a mouthwater and lovong embrace. Grazie Mille for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
      Happy Holidays to you

  • Avatar
    Reply cheddarben December 20, 2017 at 6:37 am

    I love this recipe and I have not worked with lumaconi. Inspiring me a bit.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 20, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Always glad to inspire Ben. This recipe is an amzing one and those Lumaconi hold the filling so well , plus have that rough texture that just captures flavors upon flavors. Have fun putting inspiration to reality. Thanks a bunch for checking our recipe out.

  • Avatar
    Reply Laineey December 21, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I love the story you told about cooking for Nicoleta’s folks! It’s so fun to inspire others! This recipe looks so fabulous! I love all the ingredients and would readily make this!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 22, 2017 at 5:33 am

      Thank you Laineey, what would life be like without inspiration. I loved cooking for Nicoletta’s parents and am so appreciative that they are experimenting with different flavors.
      Happy Holidays Laineey

  • Avatar
    Reply Sharon Glascoe December 21, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Now this is not your average pasta and I love it! Can’t wait to try this one out asap.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 22, 2017 at 5:37 am

      Hi Sharon, yes your right this is not your average pasta. It has so many leevels of flavor and who doesn’t love baked pasta. I hope you get to try this recipe, would love to hear how you made out.
      Seasons Greetings!

  • Avatar
    Reply Helene December 23, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Oh yes introducing spices and ethnic flavors to Italian cuisine can be difficult if the Italians don’t like it. I love the way you prepared this dish. I have never heard of lumaconi before but I am intrigued now. There are so many Italian dishes barely known to the world. I need to learn more in the future. 🙂

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 23, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      Hi Helene, stick with us and we will deliver as many of these unknown Italian dishes. I love finding jewels of recipes, and more sharing them with all of you.
      Season’s Greetings Helene
      Ciao for now!

  • Avatar
    Reply Paige December 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    This sounds like a winner all the way – delicious and maybe even some leftovers too!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 26, 2017 at 6:17 am

      Hi Paige
      Always love leftover baked pasta, it just seems to intensify and get even more crispier when it is re heated. Thank you for your comment and have a wonderful Christmas season!

  • Avatar
    Reply staceymdoyle December 27, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Oh this is perfect, I have some Lumaconi and was trying to decide what to make with them! Gorgeous!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto December 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Hey Stacey youy are the first one to knowing what Lumaconi are. Everyone has said that they never have heard of them. I think you are going to really enjoy this recipe. So much flavor and texture and all baked in the oven with cheese, what could be better than that! Thank you for commenting on this recipe, we really appreciate it!
      Happy New Year!

  • Avatar
    Reply The Simple, Sweet Life January 1, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    I’ve never tried lumaconi before but I’m sold! This dish sounds like the perfect winter comfort meal.

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto January 2, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      Hi Claire, yes this is winter Italian food at its best. The flavors and textures just wrap you up in a bundle of warmth and caring. It was my first time using the Lumaconi and I have to say lve it truly, the texture, flavor perfect for this dish!
      happy New Year!Cheers!

  • Avatar
    Reply Sara Lehman January 3, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    This looks incredible! I crave stuffed pasta in cold weather, so I know I would love this!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto January 7, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Yes Sara, there is nothing like a deliciously baked stuffed pasta dish to satisfy that food craving in the winter. The rich textures and flavour take us into comfort heaven! Thank you for stopping by and checking out this recipe.
      Have a wonderful day!

  • Avatar
    Reply Rachel February 16, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    This dish looks so good! I stumbled upon lumaconi pasta at a supermarket the other day and was so curious about the shape that I had to buy it.

    How much lumaconi pasta should I use for this dish? I can’t seem to find the quantity in the recipe.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 17, 2020 at 12:29 am

      Thank you! You are right, I can’t find it either. I would say about 250-300 grams. Hope you give it a try and love it as much as we do! Please, don’t forget to let us know.

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