Sausage / Ricotta-Stuffed Shells

This recipe will yield approximately 46 shells. If you cannot find stuffed shells, you could also use this same recipe and layer into a lasagna with lasagna noodles.

One of my favorite things to do is cook, especially when I'm cooking for someone else. Whether for a new baby, illness, loss of a loved one, or birthday celebration, nothing brings people together and provides comfort more than a good meal. My go-to meal is stuffed shells. Add a side salad and a yummy dessert, and you have the perfect meal to take to someone else.  

  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage
  • 30 oz whole milk ricotta cheese (you can use skim, but I like the flavor of whole milk better)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp basil (I like the lightly dried best, but you could use dried or fresh)
  • 1 tsp parsley (I like the lightly dried best, but you could use dried or fresh)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella (plus more for topping)
  • 48 ounces marina sauce (I love to use local, so my favorite is Mama DiSalvo's)
  • Brown, drain, and cool sausage. 
  • Cook shells according to package directions (al dente; do not overcook, or the shells will fall apart). 
  • Rinse shells with cold water and separate to ensure they do not stick together. 
  • Spray two 9x13 baking dishes with cooking spray. 
  • Place cooled sausage in a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta, seasonings, and specified amounts of cheeses (you will use more cheese later for topping the stuffed shells). 
  • Mix all of these ingredients together.   
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.  
  • Place a layer of sauce in each of the baking dishes. 
  • Stuff the shells with the ricotta/sausage mixture. 
  • Place one layer of shells in each of your pans. Cover the shells with more sauce, then sprinkle with more parmesan and mozzarella cheese. 
  • Finally, sprinkle with more parsley and basil.
Bake at 350 F for approximately 30 minutes until shells are heated through, cheese is melted, and sauce is bubbly. If you are making this dish for someone else, you can have them bake the shells at their home, but they will need to be refrigerated until ready to bake. Include instructions for them to place the shells in the oven while it is preheating since the shells will be at a refrigerated temperature. You can also easily give one tray of shells away and keep one to feed your own family — so many possibilities!