Italian Sausage and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells with Creamy Marinara
Well, here's your brand new crowd pleaser. When you set a skillet or pan full of this delicious, cheesy pasta into the center of the dinner table for your family or guests, you will see their eyes glass over in anticipation. Get ready to share the recipe - you shall have lots of requests!
1sweet yellow onion, diced, may substitute 1 Tbs. dehydrated onion, if desired
14ozcrushed tomatoes, with juice
2-3Tbs.freshly chopped basil, may substitute 1 tsp. dried basil, if desired
Salt and pepper, to taste
16-18jumbo pasta shells, cooked until tender according to package directions (I cook mine in my Instant Pot for 1 minute under high pressure)
16ozsmall curd cottage cheese
2handfuls baby spinach, chopped, optional
1/2tspred pepper flakes
2sliceswhite sandwich bread, crumbled finely with your fingers or in the food processor
1 cupshredded mozzarella
1/2 cupParmesan cheese, for topping to serve
Make the Creamy Marinara Sauce
In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the Italian sausage with the onions until no pink remains and the onions are translucent; de-glaze the skillet with the red wine, stirring up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet into the sausage. Stir in the tomatoes with juice, whipping cream, and the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set the sauce aside and keep warm.
Make the Ricotta Filling
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cottage cheese with the ricotta, spinach, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, eggs and crumbled bread. Place approx. 2 Tbs of this mixture into each cooked jumbo pasta shell, then place shells into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish or a 12-inch cast iron skillet. (Love this dish served in a cast iron skillet - it looks super rustic!)
Stuff the Shells and Bake the Pasta
When all pasta shells are filled and placed into the baking dish or skillet, pour the prepared creamy marinara sauce over the shells; sprinkle mozzarella over the sauce and cover with foil. Bake the pasta, covered, for 30-35 minutes; remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes until the pasta and sauce are hot and bubbly throughout (160 degrees F. at the center). Let the pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving. Magnifico!
Don't overcook the pasta shells or they will fall apart as you are trying to stuff them. It's better for them to be a bit under cooked since they will continue to cook in the sauce as they bake.
If you prefer, you can leave the cream out of the sauce to have straight-up marinara sauce instead. Still delicious.
I recommend using fresh basil in this recipe if you can. It really makes a difference in this dish!
If you can't find ground Italian sausage, you can always buy Italian sausage links, cutting open the casing to let the sausage out and into your skillet. Sometimes I have trouble finding ground Italian sausage, for whatever reason.
Course: Main Course
Keyword: Italian Ssusage Stuffed Pasta Shells with Ricotta, Italian Stuffed Shells with Meat and Ricotta Cheese, Sausage and Ricotta Stuffed Shells, Stuffed Shells with Ricotta and Cottage Cheese, Stuffed Shells with Sausage and Spinach