Last month my dear husband started talking about stuffed shells. He wanted them to be nothing but pasta shells stuffed with ricotta (just ricotta) and with sauce poured over the top. Informal Twitter poll told me not to do it but I figured I could at least make him a version I could be proud of.

My Sausage-Stuffed Shells have ricotta and sausage and Parmesan and lots of basil! And more cheese on top because duh, pasta needs cheese on top! They were delicious and even the husband had to admit that my shells were better than the ones he had wanted so badly.

I tend to use spicy Italian sausage in my pasta dishes so the sweet sausage was a fun change. If you prefer the spicy stuff, go ahead and use it! Or add some crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat. I made my olive cheese bread with it but the cheesy breadsticks I just posted would be awesome too!

Sausage-Stuffed Shells

adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

1 12-ounce package jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, finely diced
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 large egg
16-ounces ricotta cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 28-ounce jar pasta sauce
1 cup mozzarella, shredded

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta shells according to the instructions on the package. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon. Cook sausage until cooked through, and no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute more. Remove pan from heat.
  4. Beat the egg lightly in a large bowl. Mix in the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, basil, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and sausage mixture. Fill each cooked pasta shell with some of the ricotta mixture.
  5. Spread ½ cup of pasta sauce over the bottom of 2 9x13-inch baking dishes. Arrange the stuffed pasta shells in the dishes. Spread the remaining sauce over the top of the pasta shells and top with mozzarella.
  6. Cover the pans with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Remove foil and bake until the cheese is starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
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