Cook shells stuffed with spinach and three cheeses in a fabulous tomato sauce with either Italian or chicken sausage and you'll have an Italian meal that's restaurant worthy. It makes enough for two dinners, one to enjoy and one to share or freeze for later.
Prep Time: 45minutes
Cook Time: 40minutes
12ouncebox jumbo pasta shells
1lb.Italian sausage(pork or chicken, casings removed)
1small onion(finely chopped)
¼teaspoonred pepper flakes
10ouncesfrozen spinach(thawed and squeezed dry)
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 and sugar, 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.
Barbara's Notes + Tips
If you want a thinner sauce, add ½ cup of water with the tomatoes.
Don't over cook the pasta, it should still be firm, it will continue to cook in the oven.
To remove the moisture from the spinach, poke holes in the bag and wring it out so the fluid comes out the holes, then just pat with a paper towel.
You can assemble this in advance and refrigerate for a day before baking.
If you want to freeze the second dish, let it come to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap and then foil. Let thaw completely in the refrigerator and bake as above.