Spinach and Sausage Stuffed Shells

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Fun fact:  I’m Italian.

I eat pasta a few times a week.  I laugh when I think of the time when I thought I may have to be gluten free.  Yea, right.

My family has several go-to pasta dishes.  Some are easy options for busy weeknight dinners and others are special dishes for family gatherings and holidays.  This recipe for stuffed shells doesn’t really fall under either category.  The recipe fell into my lap over a year ago and, when my boyfriend and I prepared it, it was immediately one of my new favorite things.  Fast forward a year later, and I still hadn’t made it a second time.  I have interesting timing since my craving for this dish came during the summer, but there’s no time like the present, right?

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 Spinach and Sausage Stuffed Shells

Adapted from Inspired Taste blog

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

16–18 jumbo pasta shells
1 pound mild, or hot Italian sausage, casing removed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan for topping
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Boil large pasta shells according to the directions on the package.  Once al dente, drain the shells and place in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

For the filling:  remove the casing from the outside of the sausage.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add sausage and break up with a wooden spoon.  Cook until browned.    Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes.  Defrost the spinach in the microwave and squeeze well to remove the excess water.  Add the spinach to the sausage.  Add ricotta and mozzarella and stir until creamy.  Season with salt and pepper.  Using a spoon, fill each shell with the mixture and place in a baking dish.  Once all the shells are filled, sprinkle with the parmesan and bake in the oven until the sides of the shells are lightly browned.  Remove from oven and serve!  Buon appetito

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