Italian Stuffed Shells

Sometimes I feel like I work harder when I get home from work than I do at my job-for-a-paycheck. Last night was no exception. After I finished my day at the office, and got through all my work at home, I was exhausted! If only I could figure out how to collect payment for all that ‘unpaid work’ that comes with running a household!

Anyway, while I put together dinner for last night, and prepped for dinner tonight, it occurred to me that I have never shared this recipe with you (or, at least I don’t think I have). I find that odd because it’s one of my favorite Pinterest found recipes and I’ve made it several times. I figure I should remedy that and share today….

The link to the original recipe can be found here. Of course, I almost always change up a recipe a bit so here goes:

Ingredients:
1 lb Italian sausage
1 Tbsp (or so) garlic
1 can diced tomatoes, juice included
1-1 ½ cups ricotta or cottage cheese (I’ve used both, both are delish, go with your gut on this one. I’ve also used cottage cheese with chives which gives the dish an extra somethin’ special…feel free to experiment!)
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and juices squeezed out
Large pasta shells (up to 16 shells, depending on your mission, I’ll explain later)
Italian blend cheese

Directions:
-Start by cooking your large pasta shells to just short of al dente. They will continue to cook in the oven so it’s okay if they are a tad under-done when they come out of the boiling water
-Brown sausage in large skillet with garlic
-Add tomatoes, juice and all (I went to the pantry for some home canned tomatoes, but store bought work just as well)
-Cook for about 10 minutes – you will notice this mix is very soupy from the tomato juices
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-Drain sausage/garlic/tomato mixture into the baking dish where the shells will go once stuffed (this keeps the shells from sticking to the bottom of the dish but it also offers opportunity for the shells to soak up more of that tomato-y goodness as they bake – the original recipe doesn’t call for this step, but I’ve found I love it, and it’s a good use of that extra juice that is just too much when it comes time to stuff the shells).
-Return sausage/garlic/tomato mixture to the pan and add the ricotta or cottage cheese and the spinach – I turn the burner off at this point, the ingredients will warm through but the mixture will be cooled enough that when the stuffing goes into the shells you don’t risk 3rd degree burns.
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-Stuff the shells and place in the baking dish
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-Top with Italian cheese blend – I use quite a bit of cheese because cheese is dairy, dairy is on the food pyramid, we are to eat according to the food pyramid, and frankly cheese just makes the world a happier place – in my opinion.
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-Bake in a 375 degree oven, uncovered, until cheese is melted and everything has had an opportunity to re-heat back through.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I prepped dinner last evening for this evening. This is a wonderful make ahead dish which comes in handy during those busy times in life. When I get home from work tonight it will be easy enough to warm the oven and toss this baby in for a quick, fuss free meal.
You might also notice that I made only 10 stuffed shells this time around, but the entire recipe makes about 16 shells worth. The stuffing mix freezes really well, so, that’s what happened with the remainder. This makes for an even simpler throw together meal in the future.

Dontcha just love when opportunities arise that make life simpler?

H

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2 responses to “Italian Stuffed Shells

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