This recipe makes at least two pans of delicious cheese-and-sausage stuffed shells. Bake one pan now, and put one in the freezer for an easy dinner that’s perfect for families juggling busy back-to-school schedules.
Recipe and photograph by Kimme Hargrove
1 pound Italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot); or ground beef
1 (16-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells
32-ounce tub ricotta cheese
16 ounces mozzarella, shredded and divided
1 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded or grated), divided
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
16 ounces fresh spinach
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 (24-ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (or use homemade)
Heat oven to 350°F.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside to cool.
Remove casing from Italian sausage and crumble into a large skillet. Heat and cook, breaking into smaller pieces as it browns. Pour browned meat into a large bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet, sauté garlic and spinach, stirring until spinach is just wilted.
In the large bowl with Italian sausage, pour in ricotta cheese, half of the shredded mozzarella, half of the Parmesan, 2 eggs, oregano, salt, pepper, and the spinach-and-garlic mixture. Stir with a large spoon until combined.
Pour spaghetti sauce evenly into two 9×13-inch baking pans or three 8×8-inch square pans, shaking carefully to coat the bottoms. Using a large spoon, stuff shells with cheese-sausage mixture until overflowing (don’t be shy, they can hold a lot!), and place shell-side-up, leaning up against each other until lined across the pan. Continue until pan is full.
Sprinkle remaining remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top of shells.
At this point, you can opt to freeze the pan(s) for use in the future. Just seal with plastic wrap, and then add a layer of aluminum foil to maintain freshness. When ready to eat, thaw in refrigerator before baking.
To bake, cover pan(s) with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and broil for 5 minutes (watching carefully!) or until cheese is slightly browned.
Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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