When my friend showed up the other night and declared she was making dinner, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was one of the most delicious meals I’d ever had: these shells were like mini pasta burritos overflowing with a delicious, gooey concoction of oozy cheese, juicy sausage, and spongy spinach. My personal favorite part of the meal was the blanket of cheese encasing the shells, which I proudly proclaimed I would like to “curl up and take a nap in, and then eat my way out of.” No shame.
The copious amounts of salty, chewy ricotta and mozzerella cheese blended with mild tomatoes, leafy spinach, and spicy sausage made for a flawless blend of flavors. The meal was intended to serve nine but was instead shared among only five people. I think the chef, Adrie Lofters ’16 explained it best: “That was so good I think I blacked out.”
Spicy Italian Sausage-stuffed Pasta
Adapted from www.inspiredtaste.net
16-18 jumbo pasta shells
1 lb. fresh spicy italian sausage, casing removed
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice. Set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
4. Add pasta shells and cook according to package directions.
5. Drain well, then add shells to ice water until ready to stuff.
6. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add sausage, using a wooden spoon to break up it into smaller chunks. Cook five to six minutes until browned.
7. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
8. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook one minute.
9. Remove pan from heat and stir in ricotta cheese.
10. Using a spoon, fill pasta shells with sausage filling and arrange in 9×9 baking dish.
11. Sprinkle tops with shredded mozzarella cheese.
12. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese has melted and tips of shells begin to crisp and brown.