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baked stuffed shells in a large braiser
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Stuffed Shells with Sausage Marinara

Rich and creamy, easy stuffed shells with sausage marinara are the perfect combination of pantry staples and fresh ingredients to feed a crowd.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baked pasta, baked stuffed shells, stuffed shells
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 people
Calories 815kcal
Author Lauren

Ingredients

Stuffed Shells

  • 12 ounces jumbo shells about 42 shells
  • 3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese 30 ounces
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes fresh or dried
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Sausage Marinara

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage loose, without the casings
  • 4 cups tuscan kale or savoy spinach chopped
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 jar marinara sauce 24 ounces
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella grated
  • ¼ cup heavy cream optional
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter optional

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water generously with salt. Cook the shells 1 to 2 minutes under the recommended cooking time so the shells are just slightly more than al dente. Drain and transfer to a parchment lined sheet tray. Let cool.
  • Make the stuffing. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, egg, garlic, and seasoning. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Stuff the shells. Using a piping bag or spoon, fill the shells with the ricotta mixture. A piping bag or plastic bag is highly recommended. Just cut the tip off the bag and squeeze into each shell.
  • Make the sauce. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and let it get hot. Brown the sausage in the hot oil, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Add the chopped kale or spinach and cook, stirring frequently. Once the greens have started to wilt, pour in the white wine, scraping any cooked on meat from the bottom of the pan. Stir the jar of marinara sauce into the pan. If opting for a creamier red sauce, add in the heavy cream and butter, stirring until melted and incorporated.
  • Bake the shells. Remove about ¾ cup to 1 full cup of the sausage marinara. If the skillet is large enough and oven safe, arrange the shells over the remaining sauce or transfer the sauce to a 9x13 baking dish before covering with the stuffed shells. Top with reserved saice and mozzarella. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes until the ricotta is thick and creamy (but not runny) and the cheese is melted. Serve right away or cover and reheat before serving.

Notes

  • Use a large pot for cooking the shells so they're not overcrowded or cook them in two separate batches.  The more crowded the pan is, the more likely your shells are to stick together. 
  • Don't overcook the shells!  You're better off undercooking them by 1 or 2 minutes.
  • Cool the shells on a parchment-lined tray.  The shells won't stick to the parchment and this will make them easier to handle.
  • Use high-quality ricotta so it is thick and not watery.  If your ricotta appears watery, you can squeeze it gently in a clean kitchen towel before using it.
  • These stuffed shells are super forgiving so you can make them from start to finish and reheat or fully assemble them and bake right before serving.  If freezing, stop before baking, cover, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 815kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 1562mg | Potassium: 865mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 4751IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 651mg | Iron: 4mg