Prep 40 mins
Cook 30 mins
The title just about says it all. I DON'T like Ricotta but wanted some all-in- one stuffed shells so came up with this. The sisters said I could ONLY fix shells like this again and very soon. It's a little time intensive, but only in short bursts throughout the day. This makes a lot, but they freeze wonderfully well, so makes it super if you like to make enough for two meals at one time, or easily cuts in half. You will notice that I leave a lot up to you. That's what makes it your's. I know it seems like a lot of prep work, but it goes fast, and it will be well worth it. Prep time does NOT include prepping the cottage cheese.
- 16 ounces cottage cheese
- 1 lb italian sweet sausage or 1 lb italian hot sausage, whichever you prefer
- 1 -2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced, You determine the size, based on how much you like onion, I used one very large one
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped. Again, use your own criteria to taste
- 12 ounces Baby Spinach
- 28 ounces pasta sauce
- 1 lb jumbo pasta shells
- parmesan cheese, fresh grated
- nonstick cooking spray
- Prepare the cottage cheese. Very early in the day, start the cheese to drain in a sieve. Use fat-free is it makes you feel better. If you don't mind ricotta, then use it, by all means. (If you use ricotta, go directly to pre-heating oven.) At first, a lot of whey will drain. But when it look like that's it, unfortunately, it's not. Every hour or so, mix the cheese with a spoon and slightly press against the sieve. When it looks pretty dry, line a bowl with a paper towel, and turn out. At this point, you can refrigerate until the next day, or continue.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Cook shells in boiling water 5 minutes, only. You want them still pretty firm, so they don't lose their shape and makes them easier to stuff. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle.
- Saute sausage at med-hot in a large saute pan until no pink remains. Be sure sausage is finely sauted, you don't want any large clumps. Drain and wipe pan free of grease.
- Add oil to pan, amount depending on how large your onion is, and saute onion until translucent. Add chopped garlic and saute 1-2 minutes, again using your own amount. We happen to like garlic, A LOT. Be careful not to brown the garlic.
- In same pan, add the spinach. If using fresh, keep turning until just wilted, chopping at same time. If using frozen, drain and squeeze dry. Add sausage and cottage cheese back to pan. Mix and set aside to cool slightly.
- Spray a 10"x13" baking pan with non-stick spray. Spread about 1 cup sauce on bottom of pan.
- Fill each shell with mixture, placing in pan. Don't worry if they scoot around. They'll all bunch up by the time you are done.
- Spoon the sauce over each individual shell. I use a regular soup spoon. When each shell is sauced, repeat until all sauce is used.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with non-stick aluminum foil or spray with non-stick spray. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
- Serve with a nice green salad and garlic bread. Sit back and take your bows.
I don't think this was that labor intensive at all, it just takes a little time to process the cheese, and the end result was well worth the time it took to make it! I used half sweet and half hot sausage in ours. I made my own pasta sauce also, which makes it special in my book and so much better than the jarred or canned sauces. My DS who is almost 6 and a fussy eater had 4 of these, and that's fantastic for him, because he usually doesn't like what I'm making. I was so pleased he liked them so well. I might try making them with hamburg next time, but I love the addition of the spinach and the nutrients it brings into the dish. I might even try using some other cheeses next time. Great recipe!