Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stuffed Sausage and Spinach Shells

I've got another great stuffed shell recipe for you. Before you non-spinach lovers freak out, I promise you won't even tell it's in there. You kids won't think anything of it either. I had the girls up at the counter with me helping mix up the ricotta filling and stuffing shells, or rather by that point they were just snatching up plain shells to eat.

I'll be honest here, I'm not a big fan of ricotta cheese. But when I took on the challenge of cooking my way through a cookbook this year I knew there would be recipes that I wouldn't normally make for myself or my family. I'm all about trying new things though. Much to my surprise we all loved this even with the ricotta filling. I made a few changes to the original recipe, like omitting the mushrooms, sorry just couldn't go there. Maybe someday.

The filling in these is great. I decided to go with a mild pork sausage; along with the other spices it gave the dish a wonderful, hearty Italian flavor. This would also be a great make-ahead meal, I wish I would have thought of that. Monday nights are super busy for us, we have to be out the door to dance class by a little after six and boy were we cutting it close.

Stuffed Sausage and Spinach Shells

12 oz box jumbo pasta shells
15 oz. ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp dried basil
pinch of salt and pepper
3/4 lb. mild pork sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled
3/4 c frozen spinach, thawed
2-1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar of marinara/spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta shells according to package instructions. In a large bowl combine ricotta cheese, eggs and spices. Add sausage to the mixture. Squeeze the moisture out of thawed spinach and roughly chop if needed. Add to ricotta-sausage mixture and mix well. Add 1-1/2 c of mozzarella cheese. Spread marinara or spaghetti sauce over bottom of 9x13-inch pan, save a little bit to drizzle on top of shells before baking if desired. Fill each shell with filling and place filled shells on top of sauce. You should be able to fill about 24 shells. Top with reserved sauce if desired and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 45-50 mins or until bubbly all over. Remove foil during the last 15 mins of baking time.

Adapted from: Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites

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