This has been a great week, because we have eaten a lot of Italian food, and I love Italian food. Tonight we had Italian sausage in the fridge that we were going to use for dinner, but I couldn’t decide what I wanted. I searched around online, and while I did find a bunch of recipes with Italian sausage that looked good (including Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage Soup, which sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to make it), I was still just craving something basic and Italian. We hadn’t had stuffed shells in a long time, so that was where my mind kept going.
I don’t think I have perfected my stuffed shells, but I do like them. I am not sure what I want to do differently, but I feel like there is a magic ingredient that I am missing. I remember growing up that my Aunt Patty made great stuffed shells, so I have to get in touch with her to figure out her secret. For now, this is what I usually do.
1 box jumbo shells (I like Barilla)
1 T olive oil
1 lb ground Italian sausage (I only had links, so I just cut the casing and took the meat out)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz ricotta cheese
2 c mozzarella cheese, divided
1/3 c Parmesan cheese
1-2 t Italian seasoning
sprinkle of nutmeg
a couple shakes of crushed red pepper, depending on your taste
1 jar sauce of your preference (I use Bertolli Vineyard collection)
Boil water and cook shells according to package directions. Once drained, rinse with cool water.
Heat olive oil, add onion, mushrooms and garlic. Saute until tender. Add italian sausage, cook until browned. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, 1 c mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg and spices. When meat has cooled a little bit, add to cheese mixture.
In a 9×13 baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom. Stuff shells and lay down in the dish, open side up. Spread remaining sauce on top of shells. Top with 1 c shredded mozzarella, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
We served this with a Caesar salad and roasted lemon garlic broccoli.
We just had leftovers for lunch and they were even better on the second day!