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Spinach, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I’ve always wanted to try a stuffed shells recipe, since it is so versatile. The filling of this recipe is 100% customizable, but I enjoy adding sausage and spinach. You could make this vegetarian by omitting sausage. Additionally, you could make this Greek-inspired by adding feta, kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomato. This recipe is based off of Fork Knife Swoon’s Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells recipe.

Spinach, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Yield: 4 Servings (16 shells)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes


16 jumbo pasta shells (Cook a couple of extra shells to allow for a few breaking while the pasta cooks)

1–1/2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp fresh garlic, minced

8 oz. Italian sausage

4 cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves, roughly-chopped

12 oz skim-milk ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded skim-milk mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1 large egg

1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

1–1/4 cups marinara sauce

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about a minute or two. Add the Italian sausage and cook until sausage is browned, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt but are still bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. The spinach should be reduced by half. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the sausage and spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a shallow 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Stuff each pasta shell with a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta mixture, and place in the baking dish.
  4. Cover with the remaining sauce and bake covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top begins to brown and the sauce begins the bubble, another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with a dusting of Parmesan.

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