Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Italian Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells

As much as I love making and enjoying lasagna, it can get tiresome. Besides, I've been into smaller portioned foods lately and tonight's pasta dish is no exception. It's been quite sometime since I've made stuffed shells and just like lasagna, it's easily versatile and such a snap to make. Essentially, it's all about your pasta, filling, a sauce to cover and cheese. The only caveat is having to par boil the shells before stuffing. With lasagna, you can get away with no boil lasagna noodles, but for stuffed shells, it really is a step you can't afford to skip. Here's my recipe for stuffed shells... but I encourage you to use whatever ingredients you have on hand to come up with something delicious!

Italian Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells
original Joelen recipe

Pasta:
18-20 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta

Filling:
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 links italian sausage, removed from casings
1 cup frozen spinach
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning or dried oregano
1 tub (16oz) ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
salt & pepper to taste


Topping:
2 cups homemade or jarred pasta sauce
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot or dutch oven, fill with water to par boil your pasta shells. When the water comes to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt and the pasta shells. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until just barely al dente. Remove pasta from water, drain. Prepare your baking dish my lightly greasing it with cooking spray and a thin layer of pasta sauce. Place the shells in the prepared baking dish and set aside.



In a large saute pan, add the olive oil, minced garlic and diced onion. Saute until onions have softened. Crumble the italian sausage into the pan and cook until lightly browned. Drain from any fat and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining filling ingredients and combine thoroughly.



With a medium ice cream scoop (or spoon), place some of the filling into the jumbo pasta shells. I use the medium ice cream scoop for convenience and to try to fill each shell with a consistent amount.


Once all the shells have been filled, pour the pasta sauce over the tops and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes.


I'm submitting this to the weekly Presto Pasta Nights blogging event, which is hosted this week by Daphne of More Than Words! Be sure to check out the delicious pasta recipes in the round up on Friday!