Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage

My good friend Denise recently requested that I post a recipe for Stuffed Shells. I LOVE it when friends or family ask me for a specific recipe as it inspires me for what to share on my blog! I grew up in New Jersey and my Italian Mom made these for us growing up. I loved the creamy ricotta cheese mixture stuffed into pasta shells then covered with mozzarella cheese and her homemade sauce. YUM!


This is my own version based on a recipe my dad found that has Italian sausage. I also added a box of frozen spinach to get some veggie action going on! Shhhh, don’t tell your kiddos they won’t notice with all the creamy gooey goodness going on. Pinkie swear!


Let’s get cookin’!!




Ingredients:


  • 20 jumbo pasta shells

  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage (if you use links, just remove the meat from the casing)

  • ½ diced onion

  • 3 cloves garlic minced

  • 2 cups fresh spinach chopped or 1 box frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry)

  • ⅔ cup ricotta cheese

  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided

  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, divided

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 3 cups homemade or jarred marinara sauce



Directions:


  • According to the package directions, prepare the pasta shells, drain and reserve shells on a cookie sheet with a thin coating of oil to prevent the shells from sticking.

  • In a medium skillet, over medium heat brown the Italian sausage, drain, and reserve.

  • Using the same skillet, add one tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion, garlic, and spinach until the veggies are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, sauteed veggie mixture, egg, red pepper flakes, oregano, and 1 teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper.

  • Spread about a cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of a large baking dish or two smaller dishes (cook one today, freeze one for another day).

  • Fill each shell with approximately 2 tablespoons of the filling then place in a baking dish.

  • Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the shells, then top the remaining two cheeses.

  • Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

  • Remove foil and bake until cheese is melted about 5-10 more minutes.



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