Tired of the same old baked zitis or macaroni and cheese? Why not stuff some jumbo pasta shells with meat and vegetables for a delicious dinner the whole family will love.
Baked pasta is one of those wonderful dishes that’s warm, filling and perfect for a cold winter’s night. But both my family and I get tired of macaroni and cheese, or baked ziti. So, I look for other options as often as possible.
The tortellini casserole I made a few weeks ago is a perfect example because it took one of my favorite pastas and turned it into a savory casserole. So when Ladies’ Home Journal did something similar with jumbo pasta shells, I knew I had to try it. What made the dish even more intriguing was it didn’t just use meat and tomato sauce. There was also spinach, mushrooms and two kinds of cheese. All these ingredients made for a meal that wasn’t only super tasty, but also very healthy. It actually had members from all the food groups in it: pasta, cheese, sausage, spinach and tomatoes. Who knew a casserole could give you a serving of everything in just one sitting?
- 1 (12 ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
- 3 links hot or sweet sausage, casings removed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1-3/4 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1 (24 ounce) jar tomato sauce
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the pasta according to the package, drain and set aside.
- Cook the sausage, onion and mushrooms over medium-high heat in a large skillet until the onion is tender, about eight minutes.
- While the sausage cooks, mix together the ricotta, egg, 1/2 cup of cheese and spinach in a large bowl. Stir in the cooked sausage mixture and set aside.
- Warm up pasta sauce in a large pan. Spoon two-thirds of the warmed sauce into the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish. Fill each pasta shell with about two tablespoons of the sausage mixture and arrange in the baking dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells.
- Bake, covered, for 25 minutes or until the sauce bubbles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1-1/4 cups of cheese and bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
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