Shells stuffed with spinach and three cheeses cooked in a fabulous tomato sauce with either Italian or chicken sausage. It makes enough for two dinners, one to enjoy and one to share or freeze for later.
I love Italian food but was not exposed to it much growing up, so I’ve never tried some of the more classic Italian dishes like stuffed shells. You’ll find that stuffed shells are very easy to make. The photo of this dish in Jamie Deen’s Good Food is the type I strive for. The shells looked so delicious, that I just had to try his recipe. Mine not only looked exactly like his photo, but the flavor was great.
The red pepper flakes add a nice little kick to the sauce which is full of flavor from the sausage. I’ve used both chicken sausage and Italian sausage and both were awesome. This is my favorite dinner to take to a friend who needs a night off from cooking.
Back to the recipe, if you want to lighten things up a bit, use chicken sausage and skim ricotta. I added a little sugar to the sauce, which I felt it needed. I was afraid that the sauce would overwhelm the rest of the dish, but it combined perfectly so that you could taste all of the flavors.
How do you make stuffed shells
Step 1: Cook pasta, drain and sprinkle with a little olive oil so they don’t stick together.
Step 2: Cook the sausage and onions and then add the seasoning, crushed tomatoes and tomato puree and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Spread about 3/4 of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
Step 3: Combine ricotta with parmesan, 1/2 the mozzarella, spinach and eggs. Stuff the shells with about a tablespoon of the cheese mixture and place on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
Step 4: Cover with remaining sauce and mozzarella and cover with foil. Bake for 35 minutes, remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Can you FREEZE stuffed shells
Since this makes a large portion, I will divide it into two baking dishes and freeze one before baking. You can also bake it and then let it cool to room temperature and freeze already cooked. If freezing it unbaked, let it thaw to room temperature before baking.
The last time I made stuffed shells, they were out of shells at the grocery and I used manicotti instead. It tastes the same but takes a lot longer to stuff the manicotti then the it takes to stuff shells.
Another great reason to try this is that it makes two pans, so if you aren’t feeding a crowd, you’ll have an extra pan to freeze or take to a friend.
More Pasta recipes you’ll love
- Baked pasta with vodka sauce
- Italian sausage with bucatini
- Spaghetti with short rib sauce
- Penne with artichokes
- Lasagna with bechámel
- Shrimp and carbonara
- Lemon chicken with penne
- Pasta and Cauliflower
If you make Stuffed Shells, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! I would love to see your creation.
Adapted from Jamie Deen’s Good Food
- 12 ounce box jumbo pasta shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. Italian sausage pork or chicken, casings removed
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 15 ounces tomato puree
- ¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 10 ounces frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese grated
- Cook pasta, drain and sprinkle with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together, let cool.
- Preheat oven to 350º. Spray two 9 x 13 baking dishes with cooking spray.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and once it's hot, add sausage and cook until browned, stirring and breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, Italian seasoning, sugar and 1/2 cup water, and simmer on medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Add salt as needed.
- Mix ricotta, spinach, parmesan, eggs, and 1 cup mozzarella in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir until combined.
- Spread most of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared dishes. Stuff shells with about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture and place in the pans. Cover with additional sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, removing the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking.