These Italian Shells are one of the best comfort foods on earth! They make a wonderful family dinner but also work for a very special meal. They are great at Christmastime!
Traditionally these are meatless, but I love the sausage with it. You can include it or not. I also love mushrooms, so they are included! You can really be flexible as to what you want to include. Make them to your taste.
I like to cook the shells and set them aside so that they are ready to go. Just don’t over-cook them. Al dente is the way to go so that they don’t fall apart by the end.
Brown the meat and saute the onions, mushrooms and garlic.
Drain off any extra liquid and set aside to cool while you mix the cheese.
In a fairly large bowl mix the cheeses and spices.
Then mix everything together…the meat, cheese, egg and spinach.
Spread marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
Fill shells with filling and place into pan.
Top off with marinara sauce.
- 12 ounce jumbo pasta shells
- 1 pound turkey sweet Italian sausage *optional
- 1 medium onion, diced *about 1 cup
- 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 15-16 ounce ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 egg
- ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes *optional
- 1½ tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 5 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
- 3-4 cups marinara sauce
- 1½-2 cups mozzarella, shredded **for top of shells
- Cook shells according to package directions for al dente. Rinse, drain and cover until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Brown sausage and onion until meat is cooked and onion is softened. Add in mushrooms and garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Drain off any extra liquid and set aside.
- In large bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Stir in egg and seasonings. Mix well.
- Add meat mixture to cheese mixture. Mix well. Stir in spinach.
- Spoon about 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9×13" cake pan or large baking dish.
- Spoon a rounded tablespoon of filling into each shell and place into baking dish. Continue until filling is used up.
- Spoon remaining marinara sauce onto shells and top with remaining cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until center shells are hot.