Ricotta stuffed shells are simple and delicious. With a little prep work, they make for a comforting weekend dinner or the perfect freezer meal.
Alright, we’re t-minus 3 days from Thanksgiving 2020. On any given year, we’d be busy running around finishing up those last minute errands, making sure we have all the ingredients we need for our feast. Ah, but this year, tradition is taking a bit of a back seat and plans are being changed yet again.
So how does stuffed shells come into play, you ask? Well normally, I hate cooking dinner the few days leading up to Thanksgiving. There’s usually not enough space in our fridge for anything, there’s cooking that needs to happen the day before; it can be a logistical nightmare. We’ve ordered take out in the past, but honestly with 3 kiddos, even that can get pricey. We’ve gone with the ever reliable frozen pizza which always leaves you underwhelmed. Enter the freezer meals! I try to have a few dishes stashed away in the freezer that are all ready to go. Stuffed shells are one of those dishes. Lasagna, baked ziti, chili, or soups all freeze well and are truly lifesavers in what is normally a hectic time.
Tips for making Easy Ricotta Stuffed Shells:
- This recipe uses a basic tomato sauce recipe that gets much of its flavor from ground Italian sausage. You can remove it from the recipe here if you wish.
- I slightly undercook my shells but about a minute or two. The firmer the shell, the easier it will be to stuff them. Plus, they will continue to cook in the oven when they’re baked in the sauce.
- Do not overstuff your shells. Your sweet spot is somewhere between 1 ½ – 2 tablespoons.
- If you are planning on freezing this dish, do so before baking them. They will hold up to 3 months in the freezer. When you are ready to cook them, cover and bake them at 350F for 45 minutes.
Easy Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- 12 oz jumbo shell 1 pkg.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minces
- pinch red pepper flake
- 1 lbs Italian sausage ground
- 28 oz crushed tomato 1 can
- ¼ cup chicken stock low sodium
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- pinch sugar if needed
- 3 cups ricotta chesse
- 2½ cups shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and sautee until the onions are translucent, roughly 2 minutes. Add the ground Italian sausage, breaking it into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat has completely browned.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and seasonings to the pot. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
- Combine the ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella, parmesan, eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
Assemble the Shells
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. While the oven is preheating, cook the pasta according to package instructions.
- In a 13×9 baking dish, spread ½ cup of the pasta sauce, evenly coating the bottom. Grab a cooked shell and fill with roughly 2tbsp of the cheese filling. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Repeat this process with the remaining shells until there is one full layer of the dish. Spread pasta sauce over the tops of the shells and sprinkle the the remaining ½ cup of mozzarella. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 minutes until bubbling.