Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells are my go-to for bringing dinner to a friend in need. I have brought it to families with a new baby, after a move, and after a death in the family. The Italian sausage in this casserole make it extra special. It’s filling, easy to make, and makes great leftovers.
If you want this as a freezer meal: freeze the whole casserole (unbaked) for up to 6 months, or freeze individual portions (fully baked) for homemade TV dinners!
I used to make this meal with manicotti, but I have found that the shells are easier to stuff. Manicotti will absolutely work if that’s what you have on hand.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 12 ounce package jumbo shells
- 1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces and chilled
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with oil.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and Italian sausage. Cook until the onion is tender and the sausage is nicely browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 9 minutes. Carefully remove and set on the parchment lined cookie sheet to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1½ cups mozzarella, ½ cup Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper, and garlic. Mix in the meat mixture and stir until combined.
- Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spoon half of the marinara sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
- Place the shells into the baking dish and stuff with the meat and cheese mixture. Spoon the remainder of the marinara over the shells and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Top with butter pieces.
- Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes.
- TO FREEZE: Prepare the casserole, but do not bake. Cover tightly with 2-3 layers of foil and label. Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight and bake as directed or bake from frozen, adding 15-20 minutes baking time, until hot and bubbly.
Source: Adapted from Food Network