What’s a Sunday afternoon without some good Italian cooking?! Growing up, macaroni and meatballs was a staple for a late Sunday lunch. The aroma of sautéing onions and garlic still brings back some of the greatest memories.
About two weekends ago (I know, I’m late posting this!), I made two trays worth of these Three Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Shells. And they were perfect. Creamy cheeses, folded with spinach, garlic and topped with a DIY sausage red sauce, was just what a cool, lazy afternoon called for.
This recipe is not hard to make at all – it’s just a lot of chopping, browning, stirring, tasting and waiting for water to boil. If your Sunday (or Saturday, college football fans!) consists of firmly planting yourself in front of the TV, then get off your bum and watch from the kitchen as you whip up this amazing meal.
May I suggest…. make some garlic bread as a side!
As you can see, Hubs and I stayed classy with these paper plates. Plops of shells, sauce and a side of garlic bread made this the perfect Italian dinner. We ate away, then as Hubs watched football and I went into a sleepy trance, we snuggled on the couch with our favorite Pottery Barn furry blanket. How’s THAT for a Sunday afternoon.
- 6 ounces jumbo shells (1/2 box; + 1 teaspoon of salt for the water)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 24 ounces (1 jar) tomato sauce (I always use Rao’s Sauces)
- 4 sausage links, casing remove (I used spicy sausage – feel free to omit if you’re a vegetarian)
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded
- 1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
- 1 1/2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley (use fresh if you have it)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Boil jumbo shells in a large salted pot of water (al dente – 9 minutes). Drain and set aside to cool.
- In a large skillet, add the olive oil and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Add the sausage to the same pan, crumble with a wooden spoon and cook until browned. Drain and add to bowl along with the jar of tomato sauce.
- In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino romano, spinach, egg, salt, pepper and parsley.
- Spoon half of the tomato/sausage sauce into a 9×12 pan.
- Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture into each shell and place in the pan.
- Top with remaining tomato/sausage sauce and cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 20 minutes, covered.
- Remove cover and bake for additional 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle shells with more pecorino romano cheese (optional), then serve.