As a nice alternative to the plain ricotta-filled version, this sausage stuffed shells recipe is made with crumbed Italian chicken or turkey sausage and a combination of three kinds of cheese. The secret to the light, creamy texture of our stuffed shell filling is the addition of a little cream cheese to the standard blend of ricotta and mozzarella.
How to Make Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells
These ten steps are a basic overview of how to make this dish. You’ll find detailed measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable version of the recipe below.
- Put some water on to boil for the pasta shells and coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Remove the sausage from its skin and heat some olive oil in a large frying pan.
- Sauté the sausage until lightly browned using a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage into small pieces as it cooks.
- Add some onion and garlic and continue cooking for a few minutes longer.
- Transfer the sausage mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool and preheat the oven.
- Cook and drain the pasta shells according to package directions and as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, arrange them on your work surface.
- Combine the ricotta, cream cheese, some shredded mozzarella and chopped parsley with the sausage mixture.
- Fill each shell with the cheese and sausage mixture.
- Spread some of the marinara sauce in the bottom of your baking dish and arrange the stuffed shells on top.
- Top with more mozzarella and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
The dish is very easy to prepare in advance. Just follow the recipe, omitting the final baking. The unbaked casserole can be refrigerated for up to two days.
Before serving, cover the casserole with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and return to the oven for five more minutes, or until the mozzarella on top is bubbly and golden.
Sausage Stuffed Shells
- 24 jumbo pasta shells, about 6 ounces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb Italian chicken, or turkey sausage, removed from the casing
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese
- 1-1/2 cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Homemade marinara sauce, or your favorite store bought brand
- Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the shells and coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage into very small pieces as it cooks.
- Add the onion and garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes longer.
- Transfer the sausage mixture to a bowl and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
- While the sausage cools, cook and drain the shells according to package directions. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, arrange them in a single layer on a flat surface.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Add the ricotta, cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella and parsley to the sausage mixture. Combine well, then fill each shell with about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the sausage-cheese mixture.
- Spoon a little of the marinara into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and spread it around as evenly as possible. Arrange the stuffed shells on top, then top with the remaining shredded mozzarella.
- Bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.