What is it about stuffed shells? If you asked me my favorite meal, or even my top ten favorite meals, I wouldn’t dream of saying “stuffed shells.” And yet, whenever I make them, it always makes me happy. Maybe it has something to do with how hard they are to screw up – seriously, I dare you to mess this recipe up. Or maybe it’s just how comforting they are – cheesy and pasta-y and (in this case) sausage-y. These obviously aren’t healthy (maybe that’s what it is!), but they are guaranteed to make your tummy happy.
Yeah, my tummy has emotions.
Anyway, this was my first foray into stuffed shells with meat, and since I’m a big sausage fan, I was obviously a big fan of these. Cheese-filled shells are great too, but there was something nice and filling and winter-y about these. My only complaint about this recipe was that it used a lot of dishes – one pot to boil the shells, a skillet for the sausage, and a baking dish to throw them all in the oven. This recipe is an excellent time to invoke the age-old maxim that (s)he who cooks dinner is excused from doing dishes. Here’s how to make it:
STUFFED SHELLS WITH SAUSAGE AND SPINACH (adapted from Inspired Taste)
About 15 jumbo pasta shells
4 mild pork or turkey sausage links, casings removed
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 350. Fill large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta shells and cook according to package directions. Drain and then add to ice water until ready to use.
- Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and break up with spoon, cooking about 6 minutes until browned. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Add tomatoes and spinach; cook one minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese.
- Using a spoon, fill pasta shells with sausage filling and arrange in a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle tops with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and bake 25-30 minutes until cheese has melted and shells begin to crisp and brown.
Mmmmmm. Comfort food. And with the spinach and tomatoes you can try to pretend that it’s healthy. This is one of those meals I think will feed us for two nights, and then my husband gobbles it up so fast that there are only two shells left. And by “my husband,” I of course mean both of us, equally. Sigh.