This is my one of my husband's all time favorite dishes. He's been begging me to make them, but I wasn't able to find the jumbo pasta shells anywhere in our town for a very long time. Well I was blessed this last week to find them at our discount grocery store, so I bought a whole bunch. The kids and I doubled the following recipe and stuffed over 50 shells and froze them to our family-sized portions. It really didn't take very long, especially with the help of the children, and I ended up with about 5 meals in the freezer as a result. How cool is that?
I got this recipe from the Martin Family Cookbook, which is my stepmom's side of the family. Diana gave me this book when we were first marriage and this recipe has been our favorite. Of course, I've changed it up a bit to make it healthier. Wish I could find whole wheat jumbo shells. I'll have to look on-line for some next time. I use raw soured cream cheese instead ricotta or cottage cheese because it is a great way for me to use up my older raw milk.
Cheese-Stuffed Shells Recipe:
(For 20 shells)
1 lb bulk Italian sausage, or smoked sausage diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 egg, beaten
2 cups Mozzarella or queso fresco cheese, grated (divided)
2 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups Raw Soured Cream Cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
20 jumbo shell noodles, cooked and drained
29 oz tomato sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sucanat
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Boil pasta shells and until tender, rinse and drain, set aside. Meanwhile, brown sausage and onion, drain. Transfer to large bowl and stir in all the cheeses (reserving one cup of mozzarella or queso fresco) and spices, spinach and egg. Stuff the cooked shells with approx 1 1/2 tablespoons of this mixture, place the shells in a 9x13 pan.
Preheat oven to 350. Make sauce by adding all sauce ingredients together in a medium sized pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour sauce over shells. Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella or queso fresco. Cover pan loosely with parchment paper and cook in oven 45 minutes.
Leftovers freeze well.