The recipe filling mixture is whole milk ricotta cheese, parmesan, mozzarella, sautéed spinach, garlic, parsley, basil and egg to bring all of the yumminess together.
These cheesy pasta shells make me smile. The first time I had oozy cheesy stuffed pasta shells, I was hooked! It’s such a simple yet comforting meal, and I think being a kid I thought the shape was really neat. In fact, my mom used to buy a big bag of these pre-filled pasta shells from Costco, so I could just heat them up, top with sauce and have them whenever my heart desired. Nothing fancy, but I liked them haha.
My husband Jason also grew up eating stuffed shells, but he was lucky enough to have his Italian mom Joan make them from scratch! I wanted to make a nostalgic throwback dish for the both of us, so I stuffed jumbo pasta shells with spinach and cheese filling, and then topped it with some homemade tomato sauce with sausage. Each cute little shell was delicious and satisfied our childhood cravings. I hope you enjoy this spinach and cheese stuffed shells with meat sauce recipe as much as our family does!
So here’s the fun part, stuffing the shells! The mixture is whole milk ricotta cheese, parmesan, mozzarella, sautéed spinach, garlic, parsley, basil and egg to bring all of the yumminess together. I use a large resealable plastic bag with the tip cut off to generously fill each shell.
I like to set each filled shell on a sheet pan before I transfer them into the baking pan with the sausage marinara sauce, you know, try to be a bit organized when I can, hehe.
So about this super fast and tasty sausage marinara sauce. It’s quick, under 30 minutes! I simmer ripe canned San Marzano crushed tomatoes for the marinara sauce along with some chopped onions, garlic and, of course, some savory, mild Italian sausage. If you like your sauce on the spicier side, add some hot Italian sausage, yum!
The cute jumbo stuffed shells gets nestled into the savory sausage tomato sauce, topped with some parmesan cheese, covered with foil, and in the oven they go until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes, oh I can’t wait!
Hey you oozy yummy gooey cheeeeezzzzy pasta shells, I want to eat you now, please. I honestly had a hard time just eating two, more like 3 or four where then were fresh out of the oven.
With our tummies satisfied, this is a family comfort food feast! If you are looking for more Italian inspired dishes, try my recipe for Grandma’s Meatballs, lasagna with meat sauce, or hearty chicken parmesan. Mangia, Mangia!
How do I make a flavorful and tender meat sauce?
The more time you allow the sauce to simmer, the more the flavors concentrate as some of the liquid evaporates. Also the natural acids in the tomatoes (predominately malic and citric acid) helps to tenderize the meat over time. I like to use vine ripened can tomatoes because they contain a lower amount of acid, making the tomatoes sweeter for a more balanced flavor in the sauce.