“Have you ever made stuffed shells?”
“Nah. Too much work.”
I lost count how many times I had this conversation. But every time it went the exact same way. I asked, looking for encouragement and/or helpful hints. And my friends answered, reminding me why I, also, have never
bothered with attempted stuffed shells.
But I’d said I was making stuffed shells, I’d bought the ingredients for stuffed shells, and darn it, I wanted to make stuffed shells!
The special occasion was my friend Teresa’s birthday and a visit from our friends, Sally, Cory and Chelley. And the stuffed shells, despite popular opinion, were not all that hard to make.
And even our friend’s reportedly picky two-year-old loved them!
Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce
1-2 boxes of jumbo shells
1 lb. mild sausage
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
4-6 cups sauce (I use Prego traditional)
2 15-oz. cartons ricotta cheese
1 tbsp. parsley
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Brown sausage with onion and garlic, drain fat and then add to sauce. While sauce simmers, boil the pasta to al dente firmness. (You don’t want it to be too soft, because they will fall apart when you bake it) Drain water and pat dry with a paper towel. In a separate bowl (not on the stove!), combine ricotta, parsley, spinach and Parmesan. Spoon cheese mixture into shells and place into two, greased 9×13 pans. Pour meat sauce over shells and sprinkle Italian blend on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
Now, obviously you don’t need to make enough for 10 people. You could use just one box of shells and have a full 9×13 pan – more than enough for four people. In that case, use half the cheese and other ingredients.
Stuffing the shells is a little time-consuming, but not difficult. After accepting the obligatory compliments on the dish, I asked my friends to be honest and tell me if it was really worth the effort to make what is basically lasagna in a different shape. They kindly said yes, that they preferred the pasta to cheese ratio of shells better than that of lasagna. (Plus, Cory claims that the extra effort just makes it taste better!)
Have you ever made shells? What’s your favorite pasta to cheese ratio?
This post will be linked to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, 33 Shades of Green, Foodie Friday, Friday Firsts and Food on Fridays. It will also be linked to Ingredient Spotlight at Eat at Home.
I find using a little scoop make is easier to stuff the shells – I haven’t made them often b/c they are work, but last time I discovered that little trick and it felt far less demanding. Maybe I’ll have to make them again…
I do not have a little scoop, but this is just one more reason why I need one! Haha!
I LOVE stuffed shells and they are worth the effort. FOR SURE.
I often will double or triple the batch when making them and then freeze several pans. That seems to make all that effort worth it. For me anyway.
This is our current favorite stuffed shells recipe.
monday morning m’mm, is right! these stuffed shells look super yummy!
i would love if you would link this and any other recipe to mangia mondays!
I’ve always wanted to try these, but haven’t yet because I thought they would take a lot of time to make. I’ll have to try it now!
They do take more time than lasagne or baked pasta, but it was worth it!
I put the filling in a Ziploc bag, cut off the corner and squeeze the filling into the shells. Works great for me!
Great idea! I’ll have to try that next time!
I tried the ziploc idea and it made things go sooo much faster! Thank you for the tip!
Oh yum. This post made me hungry!!!! Have a great day.
Thanks, Roz! I hope you’re having a great weekend.
Yum, yum, yum. Italian food is one of my favorite things.
My husband LOVES Italian food. I’m more partial to Mexican. But when I factor in garlic bread…well, it’s a pretty close race. Yeah. A food race.
OH my goodness! I MUST try this one!
Yay!! Do – and let me know how they turn out!
I love stuffed shells! My mom has a fantastic version in which they’re stuffed with cheese- this was always my favorite.
Well, really, how can you go wrong when you’re stuffing something with cheese? ;)
Oooo that looks good!! I’ll have to give that a whirl sometime, thanks for sharing the recipe!! :)
By the way, I finally got around to posting my TV obsessions post:
You’ll have to let me know if you give them a try! They really aren’t that hard!
And don’t forget the garlic cheese bread & salad w/ Olive Gardenesque dressing and Snickerdoodle cake! Yum! :)
Oh, I won’t!
This is too funny! We actually had stuffed shells on Sunday and Monday (only without the meat sauce because I’m a vegetarian)! My grandma used to make them on occasion, but she acted like it was just so much work to do. Now, we have discovered that they are actually very easy to make and will be making them on a regular basis!
Yep! Not too hard…just long. :)
I love stuffed shells and always get lots of compliments when I make them. I don’t tell people just how easy they are to make, and, as a consequence they’re always so impressed. Time consuming…a bit, but well worth it because I always make enough to freeze an extra casserole or two. I like the looks of your recipe and will give it a try next time.
So smart to freeze some. I will definitely do that next time!
Haha – great minds think alike!
there’s obviously no way I could eat that, but OH MY WORD it looks so freaking good!!!
Ummm….no. They were awful! (Does that help?) ;)
Those look wonderful.
Stopping over from Tuesdays at the Table…this recipe looks SOOOO delicious! I can’t wait to try it :)
Thanks for visiting. I hope your shells turn out great!
We love stuffed shells. Did you know you can freeze them? I’ve frozen them in a ziploc bag without sauce and then assemble them with sauce later. And I’ve also frozen them already assembled with sauce. It’s one of our favorites. I like your meat version.
It wouldn’t have occurred to me to freeze them, but what a great idea. They ARE extra work, after all – and it sounds good to me, doing the work once and enjoying them multiple times. Thanks for the tips!
Stuffed shells are a labor of love! Only diff for me, to the ricotta (lg tub) I add chopped flat leaf parsley, sauted and squeezed baby spinich with garlic and 2 beaten eggs. Good handful of Parm and mix. …ok, having company next week. Good excuse to make and bake! This is a great site! Love everyones comments.
Ooooh, you made me hungry for pasta!! ;)