Oh how I love a good baked pasta dish. Especially in the colder months of the year. These stuffed shells hit the spot on a cold night. Watch out though, they are addictive. My husband and I consumed an entire tray…just the two of us. Oops. They are perfect for a family, Friday night company, for roommates or a treat for partner.
How much does this recipe make? This recipe makes about 1/2 lb of shells (about 20 shells total, more or less depending on how full you stuff them). It’ll serve about 4-5 people depending on how hungry you are!
This recipe is easy. Sure, it’s multiple steps but overall it’s beyond simple and anyone can do it. It’s pretty much fool proof, trust me. Don’t forget to serve it with a homemade Caesar salad and a crusty baguette with salted butter. It’s a must.
CHEESY SAUSAGE & SPINACH STUFFED SHELLS IN A TOMATO BASIL PESTO CREAM SAUCE
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Serves: About 20 shells (4-5 portions)
- 1/2 lb jumbo shells, boiled for 11 minutes in salted water and drained
- 16 oz. mozzarella, shredded
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp butter, salted
- 2 – 28 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes
- 3 tbsp basil pesto, from a jar or homemade
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp butter, salted
- 1 lb. ground hot Italian sausage
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 5 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 15 oz. whole milk ricotta
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg
- Heat a large pot to medium heat. Add in butter, shallot and garlic. Sauté till fragrant, about 4 minutes.
- Add in San Marzano tomatoes. Use a flat wooden spatula to break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces. (You may also blend them before adding to the pot for a smoother sauce).
- Add in all the remaining ingredients and bring to a soft boil. Then turn down to simmer and allow to cook for an additional 20 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Heat a large pot or tall sided skillet to medium heat. Add in butter, garlic and shallot and cook till fragrant, about 4 minutes.
- Add in sausage, salt and oregano. Cook till browned, about 7 minutes. Once browned, add in chopped spinach and cook till wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
- Drain any liquid from the sausage mixture.
- In a large bowl mix together ricotta, parm and egg. Then add in sausage mixture and combine.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place about 2 inches of sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish (you may also use two medium sized dishes like I did).
- Stuff each shell and place on top of the sauce.
- Cover shells with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
- Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy while hot with extra parm and fresh basil.