Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stuffed Shells with Italian Sausage and Ricotta

Olivia and I have always been partial to Italian food so when this beautiful creation caught her eye on the Food Network, she decided to make it.  It is easy to assemble and features a wonderful creamy blend of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and romano cheeses.  I have to admit I am a sucker for anything that includes fresh basil.  In the summer, Olivia and I both keep a pot of it growing within reach of the back door so it is always available.  I have been known many times to just pick a leaf of it and crush it to smell it or just chew on a small leaf to enjoy the fresh taste of summer.  Where we live, a fresh taste of summer would be most welcome right now.  We hope you enjoy making this and sharing it.


1 12 oz. box jumbo shells, cooked al dente
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 pkg. Johnsonville® Mild or Sweet Italian Ground Sausage, or one pkg links
2 25 oz. jars marinara sauce, or 5-6 cups of your favorite sauce
2 large eggs
1 15 oz. tub ricotta cheese, whole or part skim
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water.

In a 10" skillet cook sausage on medium heat, crumbling it into small pieces as it cooks. Allow it to cook through then set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a pastry brush, coat the sides and bottom of a 15 x 10 x 2" baking dish with olive oil. Pour half the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, set aside.

In a large bowl beat the egg, mix in the ricotta, 2 1/2 cups of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, basil, ground pepper and the cooked sausage.

Fill each cooked shell with the sausage mixture and nestle them in sauce. Once all the shells are filled, top them with the remaining sauce, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.

Bake covered until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking about 5 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

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