Any recipe that can be made in advance, and thrown into the oven when I get home from work is a recipe I can get behind. Stuffed shells can be a process to put together but if you take the time when you have it, maybe on a weekend or day off, you’ll be a happy camper on one of those notorious busy days.
This dish is also a great way to get your kiddos in the kitchen with you. You can put together all the ingredients and they can help you assemble the shells. It’s fun for the kids but also helps you finish dinner even quicker. In the words of Ina Garten “how bad could that be?”
Once the dish is assembled, all you have to do is throw it in the fridge or freezer (it freezes very well) and it’s ready for you to pop in the oven at the end of a busy day.
This dish is warm, comforting, cheesy and filling. It’s perfect to enjoy on a cold winter night, but the ground turkey and spinach filling make it light enough to enjoy even on a warm summer night!
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
1 package jumbo pasta shells
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/3 pound mild or hot Italian sausage
5 ounces fresh spinach
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 28 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
32 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. When water boils, cook shells according to package directions. Drain pasta and gently toss with olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
In a medium skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and cook until fragrant. Add the ground turkey and sausage, then cook until browned. Add the spinach and cover until spinach has wilted. Toss the meat mixture into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the onions until they become soft and just begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and cook until fragrant. Turn down the heat and add the tomato sauce and water. Stir to combine and simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until ready to use.
Add the ricotta and eggs to the bowl with the cooled meat mixture, stir until combined. Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the mixture.
Pour the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and layer the shells into the dish. Cover the shells with parmesan cheese and top with shredded mozzarella.
If eating at a later time, cover the dish with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to eat. Remove the dish from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes) before baking.
Bake at 350°F uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until top is browned and sides are bubbling.