This is one of those recipes that I can’t believe I haven’t shared yet. I have been making my Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells for YEARS. It is one of my go-to’s for dinner guests because it is so delicious and it makes enough for a feast. I always get rave reviews too!
Isn’t she so pretty??? For reference, this is an 11×7 inch baking dish. Look how many shells! The recipe makes three pans like this or one 9×13 and one 11×7 (or 8×8). So, if you don’t have dinner guests, this makes an excellent freezer meal. With only four people at home right now, I can get away with splitting into three meals. Cook once and eat three times? Sign me up!
How to Make Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
This recipe is all about the filling because the rest is super simple. In a large bowl, add ricotta, cream cheese, Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, parsley and Italian seasoning.
Also, add spinach, salt, pepper, and one egg that has been slightly beaten.
Next, add Italian pork sausage that has been cooked, crumbled and drained of grease. Mix it all together and get ready to stuff your jumbo shells.
One box of jumbo shells doesn’t seem like a lot but it is. There’s approximately 40 shells in a box. Fill all of the cooked shells with this filling and you have yourself a huge amount of food. The only other ingredients you need are marinara and extra mozzarella. Add a little marinara to the bottom of your baking dishes, add stuff shells, then top with more marinara.
Cover and bake the Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells for 35-40 minutes, uncover and top with mozzarella, then cook for another 5-10 minutes. If these have been froze, make sure to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Cooking time might be a little longer if they are still frozen at all.
Lightened up Version
Dishes like this can sometimes feel a little heavy but there are several ways that it can be lightened up.
- Pork sausage can be replaced with turkey sausage.
- Part Skim Ricotta can be used instead of full fat.
- Use light cream cheese and light mozzarella.
I think that little changes like those can go a long way to healthier choices. We can still enjoy cheesy pasta and don’t have to totally deprive ourselves.
Featured January Recipe
If you’re local to Northern Utah, watch for the display for my Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells in all Lee’s Marketplace locations through the month of January.
Ingredients on sale at Lee’s Marketplace January 5-11: Parmesan, olive oil, mozzarella, marinara
Italian Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
- 12 oz box jumbo pasta shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened
- 6 oz shredded Parmesan
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
- 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes (or 3 TB fresh parsley)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 24-28 oz prepared marinara sauce
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Cook shells according to package directions and add olive oil to the water. (Prevents sticking) Cook and crumble sausage in a large skillet until browned then set aside to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- In a large bowl, add ricotta, cream cheese, Parmesan, 1 cup mozzarella, spinach, onion, garlic, egg, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and sausage. Stir to combine well.
- Lightly grease one 9×13 baking dish and one 8×8 (or 11×7) baking dish with cooking spray. Add enough marinara to coat the bottom of each pan lightly. Stuff each cooked shell with about 2 tablespoons filling and place in the pan close together, open side up. Cover shells with remaining marinara.
- Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. Uncover and add remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Place back in the oven and bake for 5-10 more minutes.
- These shells freeze very well for up to three months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.