There is absolutely nothing like a fancy Italian dinner at your favorite restaurant, with the flavors of savory herbs, rich cheeses, and tangy tomatoes. However, for many people on tight budgets or for those who are just saving their pennies for a rainy day, dining out isn’t something that can happen very often. But, did you know that you can recreate some of your favorite dishes from your favorite restaurants for only a fraction of the cost of what dining out might be? This recipe for Spinach and Three Cheese Stuffed Shells offers a gorgeous presentation, fantastic flavors, and is economical as well.
Spinach and Three Cheese Stuffed Shells Recipe
- Large Pot
- Medium-Sized Casserole Dish
- Large skillet
- Medium-Sized Bowl
- 20 pcs Jumbo Pasta Shells You may want to cook a few extras in case some of them tear.
- 1 1/2 cups Frozen Spinach
- 1 cup Cottage Cheese or ricotta, your choice.
- 1 pc Egg
- 2 tbsp Fresh Basil Chopped
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Thyme Chopped
- 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
- 1 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1 jar Ready-Made Pasta Sauce
- 1 pound Italian Sausage
- Red Pepper Flakes optional
- Cook the jumbo pasta shells in boiling water according to package instructions.
- However, you should cook them slightly less than the time that is recommended on the box. If they are cooked too soft, it will be difficult to fill them. Our package recommended cooking them for 15 minutes, so we cooked them for 11 minutes.
- Drain the shells and rinse them with cool running water to stop them from cooking. Let them drain in the colander while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease a medium-sized casserole dish with cooking spray and set it aside.
- Brown the Italian sausage in a large skillet and drain the fat.
- Put the cooked sausage in the bottom of the casserole dish and stir in about ⅔ of the pasta sauce.
- Stir to combine and spread the sauce mixture evenly in the casserole dish.
- Thaw the spinach by microwaving it in a small bowl, thirty seconds at a time, stirring each time the microwave stops.
- It took us about 60 to 90 seconds of total microwaving time.
- After you microwave the spinach, pour off any extra moisture in the bowl, using a spoon to press out any extra water. Then use a paper towel to blot out any excess water.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a fork, stir together the cottage cheese, herbs, spinach, garlic, and the egg.
- Add one cup of the mozzarella cheese and all of the Parmesan cheese to the mixture, stirring well.
- Take a pasta shell and fill it with about 1 ½ tablespoon of the cheese mixture.
- Gently use a spoon to fill the shells. Take your time.
- Set each shell neatly in the pan. Repeat, dividing the cheese mixture among all of the shells.
- Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the tops of the shells. If you want to add a little spice, sprinkle ¼ to ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes over the top of the whole dish.
- If you plan on baking the shells later, cover the baking pan with aluminum foil or a tightly fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- When you’re ready to bake, cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45-60 minutes, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of baking to brown the cheese.
- Remove from the oven and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes to cool a bit before serving.
Related: Stuffed Shells Recipes