Here’s another new meal we tried with my revolutionized meal planning.
I found this recipe for Cheesy Spinach Stuffed Shells here. It was really very good. However, I did modify the recipe the first time I made it by adding hamburger to the marinara sauce for my carnivorous Mr. H. I was genuinely surprised that he liked the recipe since he was aware of the spinach hiding not so subtlety in the cheese filling. He did recommend that he would prefer sausage over the hamburger if I made it again.
So that got me thinking that I could swap the hamburger for sausage and the spinach for basil. It turned out really good. So you can either try the original version, or you can try my version.
Here’s how to do it. I halved her recipe, which turned out to feed us twice. So you can just modify this depending on how many hungry mouths you have to feed.
Cheesy Stuffed Shells with Fresh Basil and Sausage
- 12 oz. box jumbo shells (you will only need half of the box)
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese (1 c.)
- 1/2 c. Italian blended grated cheese
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 oz. small curd cottage cheese (3/4 c.)
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 lb. ground sausage
- 1 Tblsp chopped fresh basil, packed and heaping
- 24 oz. jar of Marinara sauce
- 1 c. grated mozzarella cheese, or more if you like
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Eyeball 1/2 of the box of shells and boil them as directed on the box. Once they are finished, drain and lay them out on a sheet of waxed paper to cool a bit.
While the shells are boiling, cook the sausage, drain it, pat out any extra fat and add the jar of marinara. I left my sausage in large chunks for Norah. She thinks they’re meatballs. 🙂 Let the sausage and sauce simmer. And, yes, I need to plan ahead and clean my stovetop before I take pictures of pans on said dirty stovetop. Please avert your eyes.
Now you can prepare the filling. I hadn’t picked my basil yet, so Garrett helped me with that.
As a side note, my garden is growing! It is so exciting! I have had to shoo away two bunnies, but other than that, they have minded their manners.
Okay, so back to the filling. Mix together the ricotta cheese, Italian blended grated cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, small curd cottage cheese and basil. Tear or cut the basil into little bits. I think I would have liked a bit more basil, but Mr. H said the amount was just right. So if you want it really basil-y, just put more in. Use a microplane grater for the garlic, a garlic press or chop it up with a knife very very finely. Stir all ingredients until combined.
Now it’s time to fill those shells.
Place them in a well-greased baking dish. Pour the meat sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. I took the foil off for the last 5 minutes. I would have like to brown the cheese a bit more, but we had to eat so Mr. H could make it to work on time.
These shells are so delicious.
I love the addition of cottage cheese. I didn’t have any cottage cheese the first time I made this, but this time I made sure I had it. It makes the filling so creamy and cuts down on the graininess of the ricotta.
Super easy. Good for a weeknight meal or for company. If you try them, let me know what you think.