These sausage and spinach stuffed shells are a real winner for an easy gourmet dinner; each shell is filled to the brim with so much flavor!
Ok…I already know what you’re gonna say. Quin wtf it’s the beginning of the new year and you’re presenting me with carbs already? Why yes I am, my friends. You see I believe everything needs to be done in moderation, you know #yolo right? You can get back to your smoothies, keto diet, and zumba lesson after we discuss this goodness though, ha!
If I’m being completely real with you, I’ve been making these sausage and spinach stuffed shells for what feels like ages. To me, I don’t think it’s a huge recipe to marvel over but each time I make it someone asks me for the recipe. These stuffed shells whip up in a pinch and there isn’t a whole lot of prep work that goes into them. And the best part is that they taste and look like they came from some fancy Italian joint!
Okay, let’s begin. So we’re gonna start by sautéing the sausage and minced garlic. Now you can use ground beef if you like too, it works just as well. When the ground sausage is cooked through, you’ll add in your chopped spinach. It’ll wilt away into tiny little specks (this is good to sneak in for the kiddos!). There isn’t a ton of seasonings I’m using here; just salt, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes for some heat if you like.
Once your pasta shells have cooked, be sure to rinse them under cold water to halt the cooking process. In a large bowl, we’re gonna combine the ground sausage, ricotta + mozzarella cheeses. Now you might see some stuffed shell recipes that use eggs but I do not in my recipe and it’s absolutely perfect. We’ve reach the home stretch and now we’re gonna stuff the shells with the filling, yay!
Next up, we’re gonna put the pasta sauce onto the bottom of our pan. Then you’ll simply add the stuffed shells on top of the sauce and bake. When the cooking is nearly done, let’s add some more sauce to the tops of the stuffed shells and some more mozzarella cheese. There’s no skimping on cheese here if you haven’t caught on already.
I hope you enjoy this one, friends 🖤
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- 1lb Italian sausage, ground
- 1 24oz jar of pasta sauce
- 1 12oz box of jumbo pasta shells
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 15oz container ricotta cheese
- 2 generous handfuls of fresh baby spinach, chopped with stems removed
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Using a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add in ground sausage and break up until all pieces have fully crumbled. Add in minced garlic, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Once sausage is cooked completely, toss in spinach and cook for about 3-5 minutes more until spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine cooked sausage mixture with ricotta + mozzarella cheese. Stir until everything is well incorporated then set aside.
- At this stage, cook jumbo pasta shells according to package directions. Then immediately rinse cooked pasta under cold water to stop the shells from cooking further.
- In a large 12'' skillet or 13x9 baking dish, add about 1 cup of pasta sauce to bottom of pan, spread around to make sure bottom is fully coated with sauce (if using a 13x9 dish, you will need a bit more sauce).
- Fill pasta shells with sausage/cheese mixture and place directly on top of sauce in pan. Repeat process until you've used up all shells and sausage mixture.
- Bake in oven for 30 minutes then take dish out and top shells with more sauce and shredded cheese and bake in oven for an additional 15 minutes, until pasta is lightly brown and sauce is bubbly.
- *Optional: garnish with fresh basil and serve with a side salad and/or garlic bread
You can also use low-fat ricotta cheese for a more health conscious option.
This dish is also freezer friendly 🙂