Spicy Turkey Sausage, Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Any time I have to either (a) cook for a crowd, or (b) cook a meal ahead of time and reheat it later, I make my default meal.  This week I’m doing both, so that means this week, I made my default meal.  Stuffed shells are the perfect dish to cook in mass amounts, to reheat later.  I won’t claim that they are incredibly healthy, but I will claim they are incredibly delicious.


Note: I doubled this recipe, so the pictures might be deceiving!

1 12-oz. package jumbo pasta shells
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
1 lb. spicy turkey sausage
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
6-7 oz. fresh spinach, chopped OR 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes with herbs
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce


Heat olive oil in a skillet. Remove the castings from the turkey sausage. Cook the onion and sausage, breaking it apart into small pieces as it cooks.Continue cooking until no pink remains in the sausage.

While the sausage is cooking, prepare the rest of the stuffing mixture by mixing the spinach, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper and basil in a large mixing bowl.

Drain any excess liquid from the sausage pan, or simply use a slotted spoon to move it from the pan to the mixing bowl. Mix together the sausage and the stuffing.

And at the same time as all that (talk about multitasking!), bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the shells according to the package directions.

When the shells are done transfer them to a colander and rinse with cold water so they don’t continue cooking (nobody likes mushy shells!).

In a large baking dish (one 9×13 typically does the trick – remember I doubled this recipe so I have two), pour just enough marinara sauce to coat the bottom.

It’s time to stuff, get to work. Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the filling and arrange in the pan, open side up.  While you’re doing this, preheat the over to 375°.

Spread the chopped tomatoes and the excess juices over top of the shells. Place the shells in the over for 30 minutes.

Remove the dish and sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over top of the shells. Return the dish to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

The best thing about this dish is how easy it is to reheat. Just throw the tray back in the oven on 375° for about 3o minutes. If you’ve already put the shredded mozzarella on top, cover the tray with tin foil to prevent the cheese from burning.  However, if you’re making this ahead of time like I did, just don’t add the shredded mozzarella until it’s time to reheat, and you’ll have fresh, bubbly cheese!


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