Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mangia!

By now you've probably realized that Joe and I love Italian food more than any other type of cuisine. Joe is Italian so he grew up with pasta, meatballs and "gravy" (sauce to us non-Italians) and I love carbs, so we're a match made in heaven! I made these stuffed shells from All Recipes for the first time over a year ago and Joe and I both loved them, however due to the huge array of Italian recipes I have to try I never got around to making these shells again. Until tonight, that is. I saw this recipe in my recipe binder when I was organizing things a few weeks ago and realized it was time to make more shells! These are so delicious! The combination of sausage and spinach with creamy ricotta is absolutely perfect and makes these shells a little unique. I used a can of Hunt's tomato sauce (as a non-Italian I refuse to attempt homemade sauce since my husband grew up on his grandmother's amazing sauce and nothing I could make would ever come close - trust me, I've had her sauce) but I'm sure it would be even better with sauce from scratch. I ended up having to throw away about a dozen or so empty shells because I used up all my filling, an act that pained Joe greatly because, "You don't throw out pasta!" But for lack of any better ideas for what to do with them, I ended up getting rid of them.

Once these babies came out of the oven though, all past sins were forgiven. These are definitely must make. I don't think it will be another year before these are on our dinner table again!

Cheesy Stuffed Shells

1 (16 ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
1/2 pound Italian sausage (I used Italian chicken sausage)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach - thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
1 egg
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 2%)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add shells and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse in cold water.
Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain and crumble. In a large bowl, combine cooked sausage, spinach, ricotta cheese, egg, garlic, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Stuff pasta shells with the sausage and cheese mixture and place in a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Top with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the pasta is heated through and the cheese is melted.

To go along with the shells I made some fresh Italian bread. I've made this bread before, however this time I was talking while I was mixing the dough and accidentally put the egg and tablespoon of water that were meant for the egg wash in the dough. I didn't realize my mistake until the dough was mixing, but I figured the egg couldn't do too much damage and I was right. In fact, I think I like the bread with the egg in it better - it had a softer and springier consistency from previous loaves which I really liked. Mmmm...bread. It was so yummy that I had three good-sized pieces, which is why poor Tucker had to then suffer a 30 minute power walk in 95 degree heat with me after dinner. It was so worth it though - at least I think so. Tucker, who is currently panting at my feet, may disagree ;)

7 comments:

Joelen said...

I love how comforting Italian food can be. How can anyone not love pasta topped or filled with cheese?! :)

Pamela said...

It looks delicious!

Brooke said...

I just convinced my husband to try this...no spinach for him, lots of spinach for me.

mSjEnA said...

looks great !!

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

Since you and Joe like pasta (and you make quite a few pasta dishes frequently) you should enter the blogging event, Presto Pasta Nights. I'm thinking about entering for next week. http://prestopastanights.com

Gina said...

hi :) for your stuffed shells, did you use Hunt's tomato sauce or Hunt's spaghetti sauce?

Gina said...

OMG! I tried this tonight at home and it was a HUUUUGE HIT! My father had like 10 shells!! lol AND he wants to take some to work for lunch tomorrow :) THANKS for the recipe!!! :)