Sausage Stuffed Shells

My Nana Lulu absolutely loved to make stuffed shells. They made frequent appearances on her Sunday dinner table and I was not complaining. It was such incredible Italian comfort food. So this week I decided to make my take on her recipe by adding sausage! These sausage stuffed shells were simple to make because the waiting was honestly the hardest part.

The mushroom marinara sauce I made took the most time to cook but it came together easily! My beloved food processor did all of the work pureeing my aromatics for me. From there, everything just went into my big pot to simmer for 2 hours! It became the most flavorful sauce for the sausage stuffed shells and made the house smell incredible to boot!
Once the sauce was simmering I turned my attention to the filling for the sausage stuffed shells. I wanted to carry the flavor of the sauce throughout the dish, so I reserved a little bit of the aromatic puree I had made. Browning the sausage in that puree made it so incredibly flavorful! Then I stirred that mixture in with lots of ricotta, parmesan and an egg to hold it all together.
I boiled a whole box of jumbo shells just until they were al dente. They cooked through the rest of the way when they baked. I laid them all out to cool on my cutting board so that they wouldn’t stick together. My box had about 30 shells in it, but since three broke beyond use I ended up with 27. It ended up being the perfect amount of pasta for the sausage stuffed shells!
It was time to assemble the sausage stuffed shells when everything finished cooking. I filled those shells to the brim with that gorgeous filling and nestled them in a layer of the sauce in my baking dish. Then I topped it all with more sauce and lots of shredded mozzarella cheese.

The sausage stuffed shells baked for about 30 minutes to become bubbly and glorious. Then it was finally time to eat! Oh my goodness, it was everything I hoped for and more. The filling, tender shells and sauce played together so well. It was wonderful comfort food on these cold nights. My Nana would have been proud I think! I hope you all enjoy this Italian classic. Buon appetito! xoxo

Sausage Stuffed Shells
Sausage Stuffed Shells
Sausage Stuffed Shells
Sausage Stuffed Shells
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Sausage Stuffed Shells
Sausage Stuffed Shells
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 30 mins
 
Course: Main Course
Servings: 27 stuffed shells
Author: Jeanie and Lulu's Kitchen
Ingredients
FOR THE MUSHROOM MARINARA SAUCE
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms quartered
  • 10 whole grape tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 whole carrots peeled and quartered
  • 1 whole onion quartered
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 dash olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • 2 whole bay leaves
FOR THE FILLING AND ASSEMBLY
  • 27 whole jumbo pasta shells almost a whole box, taking some broken ones into account
  • 1 dash olive oil
  • 1 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 whole egg
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. First, prepare the marinara sauce. Set up a food processor and combine the mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, onion and rosemary in its bowl. Run the processor until those aromatics become a lovely puree. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of the puree and set it aside for the filling. Then get out a large dutch oven or pot and heat the olive oil in it over medium high heat. Pour the aromatics in and let them become fragrant for a couple of minutes. The tomato paste and red wine go in next. Let them cook for another couple of minutes. Finally, add in the crushed tomatoes, salt, red pepper, oregano and bay leaves. Stir it all together well and bring it to a low boil. Then reduce it to a simmer and let it simmer for 2 hours.
  2. While the sauce cooks, you can prepare the filling and cook the pasta shells. Get a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Salt the water generously and cook the shells for about 8 minutes. Drain them and spread them out on a sheet tray or cutting board to cool. Set them aside. While the shells cook and cool, make the filling. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the 1/4 cup of aromatics you set aside. Let it get fragrant for a minute. Then add the sausage and break it up as it browns. Season the sausage with the salt, crushed red pepper, garlic powder and dried oregano as it cooks too. When it is almost done, stir in the tomato paste and let it cook for another minute.
  3. Take the skillet off of the heat and let it cool. While it cools, combine the ricotta, parmesan and egg in a large bowl. Add in the cooled sausage mixture and stir it all together thoroughly to make the filling. Cover it and refrigerate it until you are ready to make the stuffed shells. When the sauce is done, it's time for assembly. Take it off of the heat, remove the bay leaves, pre-heat the oven to 350 and get out a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour a generous layer of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish. Then get out the filling and generously stuff the shells with it before nestling them into the sauce as you make them. Pour another generous layer of marinara sauce on top and finish by sprinkling the shredded mozzarella on the very top.
  4. There may be a lot of marinara sauce leftover. Either refrigerate it or freeze it until you want to use it for another dish! Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the stuffed shells for 30-35 minutes. It should get bubbly and gorgeous. Take it out and serve immediately with crusty bread! It makes great leftovers as well.

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12 thoughts on “Sausage Stuffed Shells”

  1. Hi Leigh! ?
    I’m really liking your marinara sauce recipe.
    I do have many sauce recipes in my file, but I always have room for one more.
    I’ve made stuffed pasta shells before, but never with mushrooms in the marinara sauce.
    Where have I been?! ?
    Seems to me like we’ll be eating this one soon.
    Have a nice day!

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