Everyone needs a few meals in their arsenal that are 2-for-1-ers, and this spinach stuffed shells recipe is one of mine.
What's a 2-for-1-er, you ask? It's a meal that you make once, and eat twice, preferably the second time is weeks later, so it doesn't feel like "leftovers". Really, I make this meal once and eat it like 5 times, because even after splitting it between two dishes, I still get some lunch leftovers from it, too.
The funny thing about this recipe is that I always make it with the sausage mixed into the stuffing, but this time I completely forgot to add the sausage until I'd already made the spinach stuffed shells, and you know what??? I actually liked it BETTER that way, so I decided to stick with it.
Also, I tszuj it up when I'm feeling fancy with some chopped mushrooms and a cup of wine added to the sauce, but you can totally use your favorite jarred sauce and I won't tell anyone, I promise. You can also leave the sausage out entirely and make this a vegetarian meal and it's STILL delicious! The versatility of these spinach stuffed shells are just one more thing that makes them a staple in our house.
Spinach Stuffed Shells with Sausage
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach an ounce or two under or over won’t kill you, feel free to substitute fresh, chopped spinach
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 6 leaves fresh basil shredded
- 3 cups ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 32 ounces of your favorite red pasta sauce
- 16 ounces loose bulk Italian Sausage ( optional )
- 1 gallon freezer zip-top baggie for filling the shells optional, but makes life easier
- 16 ounce jumbo pasta shells
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the shells in the water for approximately half of the listed cooking time on the package ( around 6 minutes for the shells I used ).
- Cook the spinach according to package directions. Let cool, squeeze the water out.
- Mix the garlic, spinach, parsley, basil, ricotta, eggs, half of the parmesan, all of the salt and pepper in a large bowl until well combined.
- If you'd like to include the sausage ( SO GOOD! But usually only added as a special treat in my house ), brown it in a pan over medium high heat for 4 - 6 minutes, crumbling it up with a cooking utensil in the pan as it cooks.
- Prepare one 8x11 pan and one 9x9 pan ( or a second 8x11 -- I don't have two so I have to cram into my 9x9 ) by pouring the tomato sauce into the bottom of each pan.
- Put the filling into the freezer bag, cut 1" off of the corner to make a piping bag. Pipe each shell almost full with filling. Place each filled shell into one of the pans.
- Split the remaining cheeses ( mozzarella and parmesan ) between the two dishes -- covering the shells in both dishes with cheese.
- Bake for 25 minutes to eat tonight. Freezing directions in "Notes".