Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

After making the Mexican Stuffed Shells, I realized how versatile the shells can be. It's basically just pasta, filling, sauce and cheese to cover. I started searching the internet for other things to fill them with and came up with this recipe fro Allrecipes. These shells are by far my favorite and definitely dinner party worthy. We had a few of hubby's friends over for a last home-cooked meal before one of them left for a 7 month boat tour. All three of the guys gave these thumbs up and even though I was planning on freezing half for later on there were only two left!

1 12-oz. package jumbo pasta shells
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
6-7 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup bread crumbs (We didn't have these on hand so I omitted them)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes with herbs, including the liquid (This was definitely better than a jarred spaghetti sauce. It added a little more flavor)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is completely cooked through and no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, ricotta, spinach, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, basil, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Stir together to combine. Add the cooked sausage mixture to the bowl and stir until evenly mixed.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread a thin layer of the chopped tomatoes in the baking dishes (either three 8×8″ pans, or one 9×13″ and one 8×8″). Stuff each shell with some of the sausage and cheese mixture, and arrange in the baking dishes, open side up. Spread the remaining tomatoes over the top of the pasta shells.

Cover the pans with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 more minutes.

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