Friday, January 23, 2015

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

This isn't the best picture, it's a picture of the leftovers.  But, I must say, these are just as good the next day.  I made these during the holidays for family and then again for friends this last weekend.  This recipe is a keeper!  I love the cheese filling with spinach, mushrooms, garlic and roasted red peppers. It's packed with flavors I love. The recipe makes two pans (about 50 shells) so it will feed a crowd.  You can always freeze a pan or cut the recipe in half.  

The recipe comes from Tina at  Check out her blog and recipes, she's one amazing cook!  Also, check out her recipe here as she has step by step instructions with beautiful pictures. 

Tina's recipe is vegetarian and I'm sure it's delicious as is but I made a few changes.  I added Italian Sausage to the marinara sauce,  I used 1/2 ricotta and 1/2 cottage cheese just because my Mom always used cottage cheese in her filling and that's how I like it and I also used more sauce and cheese but that's about it.  Here's the recipe with a few of my changes.  

Makes about 50 stuffed shells- 2 (9" x 13" x 2" inch baking dishes)  - about 12 servings                                                                                                     


1 (16-ounce) pkg. ground Italian sausage
This is my favorite brand of Italian Sausage

3 (24-ounce) jars marinara sauce, divided -( use one jar to put on         the bottom of the pans before you layer in the stuffed shells)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

8-ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, diced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained & chopped

2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry 

1 (16-ounce) container ricotta cheese

1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 egg

3 cups mozzarella, shredded & divided

1 1/2 (12-ounce) boxes jumbo shells pasta (You'll only need about 50 shells)

salt & water for boiling pasta


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta.
In a large pot brown sausage.  Drain grease and add back to pot.  Add 2 jars of sauce and cook 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Add oil to large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté 3 minutes until softened. Add mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to pan.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until softened.  Add  roasted red peppers, spinach and stir until well combined.  Turn off heat and allow to cool a bit.

Cook your pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions as they will cook more in the oven.  
Drain your pasta and pour onto a greased rimmed baking sheet to cool.
In large bowl (also mixes well in stand mixer) combine ricotta, cottage cheese, Parmesan, eggs and 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Stir to mix.  Stir in the spinach mixture.

Pour 1/2 of a jar of marinara sauce in bottom of  each 13" x 9" x 2" baking dishes (2) and spread evenly.

Fill each shell with about 2-3 tablespoons filling.  Arrange them in each pan in a single layer.  

Spoon sauce (with Italian sausage) evenly over filled shells and sprinkle each pan with 1 cup cheese.

Cover dish with foil.  Bake covered for about 1 hour. 


To Freeze: assemble, wrap well and freeze. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before you bake them.