This dish is pretty easy to make ahead of time and bake when you are ready. I ended up just mixing in the sausage instead of crumbling on top. Either way works, but it was just easier to mix in. Overall we thought it packed a lot of flavor so we’ll be having it again!
Sausage and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
(Adapted from Craving Some Creativity)
1 package jumbo pasta shells 16oz
4 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Eggs lightly beaten
4 tsp garlic powder *see note
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 cup parmesan grated or shredded is fine
45 oz spaghetti sauce large jar
4 cups spinach rough chopped and stems removed if you prefer
1 lb ground Italian sausage
dried parsley for garnish
1/2 tsp pepper
In a skillet over medium heat, brown and crumble the sausage.
Drain any excess fat and remove from heat. In the same saucepan, cook spinach until wilted or about 1-2 minutes.
Cook the shells according to package directions (I cook them until they are pliable for filling and no more).
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, 8oz of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of parmesan, eggs, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir in the spinach.
Coat the bottom of a 9x13in pan with the entire jar of spaghetti sauce. Spoon the cheese mixture into the shells and place shells open side up, very close together in the dish. There will be more shells than will fit into this pan and you can either make a second smaller pan (5x8 is good) or freeze for future use. Sometimes the shells also break in the box so this is fine.
Sprinkle the sausage over the top of the shells. Then sprinkle with the remaining 4oz of mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. If you like a cheesy crust, you may broil it uncovered for 3-5 minutes (watch closely). Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
I am not a huge fan of garlic, but I find that this recipe really absorbs the garlic and mellows the flavor while baking. I usually put enough garlic powder until I think "wow, I put too much in". That is actually the perfect amount.