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PASTA PILLOWS aka SAUSAGE-SPINACH STUFFED SHELLS

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Stuffed Shells

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. 20-24 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 lb. hot Italian sausage casings removed {note: we used mild}
  • 1 10 oz package frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 T UNSALTED BUTTER
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 T all purposed flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce

Instructions
 

Stuffed Shells

  • Put pasta shells in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Cook until just slightly softened but still firm, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drizzle with olive oil and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med-high.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  • Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the spinach, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper to taste and stir until heated through, about 2 more minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
  • Combine the spinach mixture, ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, the Parmesan, parsley and 1 tsp salt in bowl.  Stuff each shell with about 2 T of the filling and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350.

Cheese Sauce

  • Melt the butter with the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the flour and whisk constantly until lightly golden, about 1 minute. Add the milk and cream, bring to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, 2-3 min. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan, 1/4 tsp salt, and nutmeg to taste.

Assembly

  • Brush a 9 x 13 ” baking dish with olive oil and pour in about 2/3 of the cheese sauce.  Add the stuffed shells and top with the remaining cheese sauce.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and top with the marinara sauce and the remaining 1 cup mozzarella: continue baking until the sauce is bubbly, 15-20 minutes.  Serves 8
Keyword baked pasta casserole, spinach and sausage stuffed shells, stuffed shells