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Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells

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Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells is a hearty baked pasta dish. The creamy ricotta filling pairs so well with the bold marinara sauce for an elegant dish that is easy enough for a weeknight dinner, and perfect for entertaining 

Post and recipe card updated October 9, 2019
overhead shot of finished Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells on a plate with a baking dish in the background

When I was growing up I was that kid…my food couldn’t touch. And if it did, I wouldn’t eat the part that was touching. But at the same time, I’ve always loved lasagnas, casseroles, and other foods that are cooked together.

We ate leftovers ALL THE TIME when I was growing up, so I swore them off as an adult. In the past couple of years, I’ve begun to very slowly come back around. Dirty Rice Chicken Skillet is one of my go-to leftovers meals, and one of my newest obsessions is my Tomato Basil Braised Chicken.

I finally learned to make Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce, and now I have at least one jar in the fridge at all times. One of my favorite ways to use it is with my Meatball Mozzarella Skillet Bake. Another favorite is Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
  • It’s great to make ahead, and also perfect for leftovers
  • You can use different types of meat
  • It’s easy to make and on the table in under an hour
Overhead shot of finished Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells in a baking dish with a block of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the left

Wow, this Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells is fabulous. The ricotta filling is light yet extremely flavorful, and the marinara sauce adds a bold bite.

INGREDIENTS TIPS FOR SAUSAGE SPINACH ARTICHOKE STUFFED SHELLS

Use Jumbo Shells and cook them until just al dente. They’ll finish cooking in the oven.

I use Johnsonville hot Italian sausage because I always have it in the freezer. You can use your favorite flavor and style of sausage, or switch it up and use ground turkey or ground beef.

I love to use my Homemade Ricotta Cheese but, you can certainly use store-bought. When I do buy ricotta I use whole milk, but part-skim works just as well.

Cheese is one of the key elements in stuffed shells, so I can’t stop with just ricotta! Fresh mozzarella adds more creaminess and Parmigiano Reggiano adds a sharp, nutty bite.

To add another layer of flavor I add chopped Marinated Artichoke Hearts to the ricotta mixture.

Fresh baby spinach adds vegetables to the dish, and I always prefer to use fresh rather than frozen.

Close up shot of finished Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells on a white plate
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook shells for 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain shells and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook Italian sausage for about 5 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove sausage, set aside and wipe the skillet clean.

Saute onion and garlic in the same skillet with a little avocado oil, add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove spinach mixture and allow to cool for a few minutes. Roughly chop the spinach.

In a large bowl, add spinach, chopped artichoke hearts, ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, and seasonings. Stir well to combine.

overhead process shots: filling ingredients in a clear bowl on the left; filling ingredients mixed together in a clear bowl on the right

Pour a layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.

Fill pasta shells with ricotta mixture, and place face-up in the baking dish.

overhead process shots: marinara sauce layered in baking dish on the left; stuffed shells placed on top of marinara sauce on the right

Top shells with parmesan and finish with Italian sausage

close up process shots: parmesan cheese added to top of shells on the left; sausage added to top of shells on the right

Bake, covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with a little more cheese, and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with a little fresh basil just before serving.

close up shot of finished Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells
SERVINGS, MAKE-AHEAD, AND LEFTOVERS

Servings: Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells is a complete meal on its own. I’ll usually have 3-4 shells and serve it with a side salad.

Leftovers: If you’ve got a large portion of the dish as leftovers cover securely with aluminum foil and store in the fridge. Or, you can portion it out into smaller airtight containers. Stored well, leftovers will last up to one week.

Make-Ahead: Prep everything up to one day ahead, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook remove the pan from the fridge, preheat the oven, and bake as normal.

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Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells - Karyl's

Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells

Yield: 20 stuffed shells
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Sausage Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells is a hearty baked pasta dish. The creamy ricotta filling pairs so well with the bold marinara sauce for an elegant dish that is easy enough for a weeknight dinner, and perfect for entertaining 

Ingredients

  • 20 jumbo pasta shells
  • 8 ounces hot Italian sausage (I use Johnsonville brand)
  • 4 cups baby spinach, rinsed, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta (you could also substitute part skim)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 16 ounces marinara sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook shells for about 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add Italian sausage and cook until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage and set aside. Wipe about 1/2 the oil out of the skillet
  4. Add onion to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove spinach mixture and set aside. Cool for 3-5 minutes, and chop well.
  5. In a large bowl, add ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, Mozzarella, artichoke hearts, spinach mixture, oregano, black pepper, pepper flakes, garlic powder, and eggs. Mix well to combine
  6. Pour Marinara Sauce into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill shells with ricotta mixture, and place face-up on top of marinara sauce. Top with remaining Parmesan, and finish with crumbled Italian sausage.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving

Notes

I fit 10 shells into a 7x9 baking dish, so if you are making a full batch, use a 4.5qt baking dish, or 2 smaller dishes

I use my Homemade Ricotta Cheese, but you can use store-bought. When I buy ricotta I get whole milk, but part-skim works too

I use my Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

Leftovers: If you've got a large portion of the dish as leftovers cover securely with aluminum foil and store in the fridge. Or, you can portion it out into smaller airtight containers. Stored well, leftovers will last up to one week.

Make-Ahead: Prep everything up to one day ahead, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and store in the fridge. When you're ready to cook remove the pan from the fridge, preheat the oven, and bake as normal.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 7 Serving Size: 3 shells
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 865Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 125mgSodium: 1171mgCarbohydrates: 108gFiber: 8gSugar: 7gProtein: 41g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc

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