Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Better than Best Stuffed Pasta Shells

Adapted from Inspired Taste via Pinterest  This is not your ordinary baked pasta.  I love that it has no soupy sauce and each bite is tender and yet crispy.  

Printable Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

16-18 jumbo pasta shells - not always easy to find in my neck of the woods.  This time I found some conchiglioni from Divella (medium sized shells, so I just cooked up enough to fill my baking dish - with a few extra in case of breakage)
1lb/450g Italian sausage links, casing removed ( I used 4 links - 2 mild sweet fennel & 2 spicy fennel)
2-3 large cloves garlic,  minced
1 (14 oz/398ml) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup wilted spinach,  squeezed dry and chopped
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F/160°C and fill a large bowl with cold water and ice, set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta shells and cook until slightly undercooked - a couple of minutes before suggested time on package directions. Drain well then add to ice water until ready to stuff.  This stops the cooking process and keeps the shells from sticking together.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crumbled sausage meat and  use a wooden spoon to continue breaking up the sausage, cook 5-6 minutes until browned.

4. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds then add tomatoes and spinach - cook 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese.

5.  This step is easier to do with larger shells, but using a smaller spoon and fingers helped. Fill pasta shells with filling and arrange in a baking dish that holds the shells close together. Sprinkle tops with shredded cheese.  

6. Bake in the oven 25-30 minutes until cheese has melted and tips of shells begin to crisp and brown.  

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