About Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells
The Husband and I love to host get-togethers at our house (our army of little dogs love it, too) and we’ve pretty much got the formula for “awesome house party” down pat. But you know what we always struggle over?
What food to serve.
Which, now that I think about it, probably isn’t a big surprise. Only a serious foodie would run a food blog like this, and the problem with foodies?
We like food.
And sometimes we like food so much that we can’t make a simple decision on what to eat.
The struggle is real, my friends, and lately, I’ve been turning to RAGÚ® for the answers. I’ve really fallen in love with the versatility of their Thick & Hearty Four Cheese sauce – it goes with all my favorite pasta dishes.
I recently tried it with one of my favorite pasta shell recipes and I was not disappointed. This recipe of stuffed shells with sausage with creamy ricotta, stringy mozzarella, and flavorful sausage was already a tried-and-true classic, but the RAGÚ® Thick & Hearty Four Cheese sauce added that extra level of flavor to take this dish to the next level. I especially love the chunks of tomato in the RAGÚ® Homestyle sauce; it reminds me of my homemade marinara sauce. With RAGÚ®, it’s like I get all the flavor without all the effort!
Plus, pasta shells are perfect for a house party – guests can load up their plate with as many shells as they want. It’s easy to plan servings, especially when you just want a “little bit more” for your second helping.
Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells
- Preheat oven to 360 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with baking spray, then set aside.
- In a large spaghetti pot, cook jumbo pasta shells to just shy of al dente (see recipe notes about shells). Place cooked pasta in a large bowl and add a splash of cool water (to keep pasta moist and stop cooking process). Cover bowl with a towel and set aside.
- While pasta cooks, add sausage to a large skillet and brown & crumble over medium-high heat. Drain sausage and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk ricotta and eggs together until smooth. Add garlic powder, oregano, spinach, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese to bowl and stir together until thoroughly combined.
- Pour Ragu Homestyle Thick & Hearty Four Cheese sauce in prepared baking dish, smoothing out to completely cover the bottom of the dish.
- To fill the shells: Cup a jumbo shell in your weaker hand, facing the shell so that the tighter curl of the shell is close to your thumb and the looser part rests along your fingers (or palm - whichever is most comfortable). Use your thumb to pry open the shell, then scoop in the ricotta cheese mix with a spoon or a spatula. Each shell can hold about 3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of filling. When shell is full, place it on top of the marinara sauce, seam side up.
- Sprinkle cooked sausage on top of stuffed shells, then top with remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
- Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30-45 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbly.
- Serve immediately with parsley as garnish (optional).
Jumbo shells have a tendency to tear while cooking. Sometimes this happens because the jumbo shell has a weak seam and sometimes the shells just break while stirring. To avoid problems with this I always cook anywhere from 3-5 extra shells so that I'll always have backups should a shell fall apart. You might end up wasting a few shells this way, but I've found this is better than running the risk of not having enough for the recipe.