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Cheese-Stuffed Shells

When I was living in California, I tasted this rich cheesy pasta dish at a neighborhood Italian restaurant. I got the recipe and made a few changes to it in my own kitchen. I'm happy to share it with you. —Lori Mecca, Grants Pass, Oregon
  • Total Time
    Prep: 35 min. Bake: 50 min.
  • Makes
    12 servings (2 casseroles)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup 4% cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • 24 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
  • SAUCE:
  • 1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions

  • In a large skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the spinach, cream cheese and egg. Add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and cinnamon if desired.
  • Stuff pasta shells with sausage mixture. Arrange in two shallow 2-qt. or 11x7-in. baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Combine the sauce ingredients; spoon over shells.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Freeze option: Cool unbaked casseroles; cover and freeze. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Cover casserole with foil; bake 50 minutes. Uncover; bake 15-20 minutes longer or until heated through and a thermometer inserted in center reads 165°.
Nutrition Facts
2 stuffed shells: 397 calories, 23g fat (14g saturated fat), 94mg cholesterol, 1097mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 24g protein.

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