Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Spicy Sausage Tomato Sauce

Who doesn’t love stuffed shells? I’d been craving them all winter, and figured I’d better get around to finally making them before the weather warmed up for good. When I think of stuffed shells, I think of tons of cheese, so that’s exactly how I made this version -- stuffed with three different cheeses and topped with spicy sausage tomato sauce.

The first time I ever had tomato sauce made with spicy sausage was back when Joe and I were living with my mom in 2005. My mom was a great cook, and she always made her tomato sauce with spicy sausage rather than ground beef. The first time Joe and I tried it, we fell in love with the flavor -- so since then, I’ve always used spicy sausage in my meat sauce (which, really, is just a jar of spaghetti sauce jazzed up with tons of other ingredients and spices. I keep it real.).

I winged this recipe, and it turned out absolutely delicious -- so creamy and cheesy, and just a little bit spicy from the sauce. I made a full box of stuffed shells, which I divided in half, and I froze one pan for a later meal. The only thing this was missing was a sprinkling of fresh basil on top!

Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Spicy Sausage Tomato Sauce

1 box jumbo pasta shells
1 30-ounce carton of ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling
1/4 cup milk
1 pound spicy sausage
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
Italian seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook jumbo shells according to directions on package in boiling salted water; drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, combine ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and milk in a large bowl; set aside. When shells are cool enough to handle, stuff a couple of spoonfuls of the cheese mixture into each shell.

3. To make the sauce, cook spicy sausage in olive oil in a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. When sausage is nearly cooked through, add bell pepper, onion, and garlic and continue cooking until vegetables are softened. Add spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, and Italian seasoning; season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Spread about a cup of sauce in the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Add shells and cover with additional sauce. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese before serving, if desired.



Allison said...

Um drool? Seriously. This would be a great weekend meal (no time during the week to boil noodles, make sauce, bake, etc.). Yum!

Stephanie said...

Looks great. I am heading to the grocery store and I think I'll make this tonight for dinner.