Baked Stuffed Shells

My granddaughter Sarah loves to help out in the kitchen, so when I am spending time with her I am always looking for recipes she can get involved with. As most kids do, my grandkids adore pasta, so I pulled out an old recipe I made many times in the past for stuffed shells. The filling is a combination of spinach, turkey sausage, and low fat ricotta cheese, and although the kids normally wouldn’t consider eating spinach, they didn’t even seem to notice it in the filling.

Stuffing shells is a great job for little fingers, and all I had to do myself was to make the filling, cook the pasta shells, and make the tomato sauce. Sarah stuffed the shells herself, spooned the sauce on top, and then sprinkled on the cheese. She was so excited to see how they turned out that she asked me to turn on the oven light and pulled up a chair and watched them cook. Of course she thought that they were the most delicious tasting pasta shells ever made once they were finished cooking and served to the rest of the family!

The kids are going through a phase right now where they do not like the texture of chopped tomatoes, so we used pureed ones. If I was making this dish just for adults in the family I would probably use a spicy Italian turkey sausage in place of the mild ones, and I would add some chopped fresh basil to the filling mix.


Why Healthy

  • Italian turkey sausage was used in place of the traditional pork variety, while low fat ricotta cheese was used in place of the full fat variety which both help to decrease calories from fat.
  • Spinach is high in vitamin K, rich in carotenoids, vitamin C, and B6.
  • Tomatoes used in the sauce are rich in Lycopene, vitamin C, potassium, iron, and fiber.



Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells are a family friendly dish that the whole family will love.

Yield: Serves 8

Prep Time: 45 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins


1 Package Jumbo Pasta Shells
1 Cup Finely Diced Onion
3 Links Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, Casings Removed
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Egg
1 (16-ounce) Container of Low Fat Ricotta Cheese
3 Cups Cooked And Drained Chopped Spinach
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese Dived Into Two
1 Cup Shredded Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese
Salt & Pepper
1 (28 Ounce) Can Organic Tomato Sauce


Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan and cook the sausage meat until it is browned, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.
Add the onions and garlic and continue to cook until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and drain off any excess fat.
Allow to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the sausage mixture with the ricotta cheese, egg, chopped spinach, mozzarella and half the parmesan cheese, and then season with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and once boiling cook the pasta shells according to the instructions on the package until they are "al dente".
Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of an oven-proof baking or casserole dish large enough to hold all of the shells.
Add a couple of teaspoons of water to the sauce and mix well.
Stuff each shell with some of the filling mixture and lay the shells open side up into the casserole dish.
Continue to fill all of the shells in this fashion.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and spoon the tomato sauce over the shells leaving some areas exposed.
Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the dish is bubbly and just beginning to brown.
Serve immediately.


2 Responses to “Baked Stuffed Shells”

  1. Meredith — August 22, 2012 @ 3:20 am

    This looks amazing, can you please tell me if it is suitable to freeze? If so, would you cook it first then freeze? Many thanks.


    recipe Reply:

    Meredith, yes it should freeze fine. I would freeze it before baking.


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