These stuffed shells are stuffed with sweet Italian sausage, spinach, ricotta and cheese for a heart meal that’s sure to satisfy!
Stuffed Shells are one of those meals that I love because you can totally customize the fillings. Sausage and spinach is one of my favorite combinations and probably the one I make the most frequently.
It’s also great because it makes such a large batch that it’s easy to split in half. You can either enjoy half now and freeze the rest for later or you can give a pan away so someone else gets a meal cooked for them that night.
And I promise they will appreciate it! I’ve taken this stuffed shells dish to so many moms over the years, and I’m always getting asked for the recipe.
How to Make Stuffed Shells
Shell Pasta- I purchase the jumbo pasta shells for this recipe. Cook for the lowest amount of time recommended and be sure to salt the water before you add the shells in. This will help keep them from sticking. But they probably are still going to want to stick so after you drain them, you can even toss them with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil to help keep them separated. I also try to make sure I have a few extra made just in case one tears.
Sausage- I use sweet Italian sausage, but feel free to use your favorite kind. My husband would probably love it if I used a hot sausage for a little extra kick.
Spinach- I use a fresh spinach that I chop before wilting it in the pan. You can also use a box of frozen chopped spinach since it’s so easy to keep on-hand. You can place it in a colander about an hour or so before you need to use it so it has time to thaw. Once it’s thawed, use your hands to squeeze any excess water out. I usually squeeze it multiple times to make sure all the water is removed. Not a fan of watery pasta dishes over here!
Now that we have those notes out of the way, let’s get down to the process! There are a number of steps, but they’re pretty easy and straightforward so don’t be intimidated.
- Boil water and cook the pasta shells.
- While that is cooking, in a large skillet cook your sausage until no longer pink. Add garlic and spinach and cook another minute or two until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add ricotta, parmesan, shredded mozzarella, an egg and oregano. Mix that up really well.
- Add the sausage spinach mixture to the cheese mixture and stir really well.
- Spread enough marinara sauce into the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish so that it covers the entire bottom. Maybe about 1/2-3/4 cup.
- Then it’s time to start stuffing your shells! Using a large spoon, fill the shells with the sausage-cheese mixture and arrange in a single file in the baking dish with the seam side up.
- Cover with the rest of the marinara sauce.
- And then top with the rest of the shredded mozzarella.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and it’s heated through.
These are great paired with our favorite Garlic Cheesy Bread!
Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
- 12 oz Jumbo Pasta Shells
- 3/4 lb Ground Sausage
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1.5 cups Fresh Spinach chopped
- 15 oz Whole Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
- 3/4 cup Parmesan divided
- 2 cups Mozzarella shredded, divided
- 24-26 oz Jar of Spaghetti Sauce
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook shells according to directions on box. Drain, rinse with cold water and lay on paper towels to dry.
- In a large skillet, cook sausage until no longer pink, Add garlic and chopped spinach and cook 1-2 more minutes until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, add ricotta, egg, oregano, 1/2 cup parmesan and 1 cup of mozzarella. Mix well to combine.
- Add sausage-spinach mixture to the cheese mixture and mix well.
- In the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish, add enough sauce to cover the bottom, about 1/2-3/4 cup.
- Fill each pasta shell with the spinach mixture and place filled shells in the baking dish in a single file.
- Cover shells with the remaining pasta sauce. Sprinkle remaining parmesan and mozzarella evenly over the top.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
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