we eat | sausage + ricotta stuffed shells + spinach

lately we have been going with the same staple items every week- meal rotations that I know are easy to please the family, but also ones that are E A S Y in general.  I try to add in some fun recipes here and there, but when I find one that was quick to whip together in the busy-ness of the evening AND it tastes good?  this is one of those recipes that as I was taking my last bite of the plate in front of me I was already thinking about how good the leftovers were going to be!  I usually change a recipe up quite a bit when I pull it out of a magazine or Pinterest, but this one was a winner all around and didn’t need too much tweaking at all whatsoever.  it makes A TON of filling and in turn a ton of shells, so I made an extra pan and threw it in the freezer to eat later (like next week?!).  Just make the entire recipe as is before baking and wrap in plastic wrap and then foil before putting in the freezer.  when you are ready to eat, just allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. 
chicken sausage, ricotta + spinach stuffed shells
1 (16oz) package of jumbo pasta shells
4 cups part skim ricotta

12 oz shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon garlic powder 
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 cup parmesan cheese

16 oz jar of pasta sauce

4 packed, heaping cups of fresh spinach
1 pound  sausage (I used chicken sausage)

dried parsley for garnish
in a large skillet over medium heat, brown and crumble the sausage. drain any excess fat and remove from heat. In the same pan, cook spinach until wilted, about 1-2 minutes. while the sausage is growing  cook the shells according to package directions.  
I cooked them until they were just under al dente so they don’t fall apart while I’m filling them.  you wouldnt want to eat them straight out of the pot, but they’ll finish cooking and get softer in the oven- cooking them this way will also allow them to hold their shape after cooking.
in a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, 8oz of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of parmesan, eggs, oregano, and garlic powder. fold in the spinach and about 1/2 of the crumbled sausage. 
add in salt and pepper as needed.  I added just a couple cracks of pepper.
coat the bottom of a 9x13in pan with the entire jar of pasta sauce. spoon the cheese mixture into the shells and place shells open side up, very close together in the dish. 
this will make more than one pan- I made a second smaller pan and put it in the freezer for a later date!
sprinkle the remaining sausage over the top of the shells. then sprinkle with the remaining 4oz of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.
cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes (I baked for 25 minutes in my oven) or until the cheese is bubbly. remove foil and switch the oven to broil for about 4 minutes (watch closely) to brown the cheese a little. let stand 10 minutes before serving. 

such a hit!  I know your family will love it, too!

July 21, 2016


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