I love stuffed shells. It probably stems from when I was a young girl, and for Christmas, my mom would pull out all the stops and make the most wonderful Italian Christmas Dinner. Stuffed shells was the main event, and it was worth the wait. Delicious tender pasta shells stuffed with seasoned ricotta and draped in her homemade marinara and smothered with mozzarella cheese. They were the most delicious things!
When I began cooking for myself, I made them once on a weeknight, and I realized why my mom saved them for a special occasion. They were a lot of work! Cooking the shells, letting them cool, making the filling and the sauce…it could take all day. But they were so good, it really was worth it.
I bet you are hoping that I am about to give you a shortcut right? Hoping that I am right about to let you know how to make them into a 30 minute meal while not sacrificing any of the delicious flavor? Well…
Yeah, sorry. Not happening. I wish I knew how to make them easier! But let me tell you, this version that I have here for you makes it worth it to make for family dinner, but elegant enough for a holiday dinner with all of your family to enjoy. There are a FEW shortcuts that you can take that might cut off a little time though…buying store bought sauce, or pre-making your sauce and your filling the day before. Cooking pasta and stuffing the shells won’t seem to take that long if you already have the filling and sauce made. However you decide to make them, one thing is for sure…you will love them!
- *1 box of Jumbo Shell Pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled on parchment paper (to prevent sticking)
- *4 cups of your favorite Marinara sauce (check below recipe for link to my marinara sauce)
- 16 oz. Ricotta Cheese part-skim
- *1 lb. bulk Italian sausage, sauteed and cooked through, and drained
- 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach, thawed, with all the water squeezed out
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese or 16 oz or fresh mozzarella, sliced (or more!)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a 13x9 inch baking pan, spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together ricotta, eggs, parmesan cheese, italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper
- Fold in spinach and italian sausage
- Spoon about 2 tbsp ricotta mixture into each cooked, cooled shell
- Place filled shell into pan
- Continue filling each shell until mixture and shells are gone
- Pour remaining 3 cups of marinara sauce on top
- Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of sauce
- Cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes
- Uncover, bake for 15 minutes
- Remove from oven and serve with extra sauce and extra parmesan cheese.
- *NOTES: When cooking pasta, follow package directions, but undercook by 2-3 minutes to prevent mushy pasta when it bakes. As for the marinara sauce, use your own recipe, the recipe that can be found here on girl and her kitchen, or a jarred version. It honestly is a forgiving recipe and any of your favorite sauces will do! For the sausage, buying it bulk is best instead of having to pull the casing off. If you have bought the sausage with casing, and dont want to pull it off, go ahead and just slice the cooked sausage thin to mix into the ricotta. Make sure you cook the sausage thoroughly before placing in ricotta because the baking time does not allow for the sausage to be fully cooked. Enjoy!
Link for Girl and Her Kitchen Fresh Tomato Sauce HERE!