If you need a dish that can be made ahead of time and just be ready to pop in the oven, then sausage stuffed shells is perfect. You can make one large 9 x 13 in baking dish or two 8 x 8 baking dish. It can be spicy if you use hot sausage instead of the mild variety.
I have tasted many different cheese stuffed shells but sausage stuffed was a unique idea. This recipe came from a neighbor in Dayton, Ohio. She made it with a Schiavone’s spaghetti sauce. The restaurant, Schiavone’s Casa Mia, was located in Middletown, Ohio. It was a family business with southern Italian food, a great atmosphere and outstanding service. The restaurant was sold and renamed in 2008 but you can still buy the sauce in southern Ohio and on Amazon.
Sometimes I use other pasta sauces or I make my own. I have adjusted the recipe for you to use your favorite pasta sauce.
My husband and son request Sausage Stuffed Shells often. It’s a favorite of mine too and very different from other Italian baked pastas.
INGREDIENTS (6 - 8 SERVINGS)
1 lb pork sausage
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tsp salt
2 slices of whole wheat bread made into crumbs
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese divided
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
24 jumbo pasta shells
2-20 oz jars of pasta sauce
8 oz grated mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet, crumble the sausage, add the onions and cook until browned. (Photo A) Drain the mixture well. While the onions and sausage are cooking, make the bread crumbs. I use a small food processor to make the crumbs and it is so fast. (Photo B) This works well with your large food processor too.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until it is slightly under al dente. It will finish cooking in the oven so don’t overcook them. Drain the pasta and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (Photo C) You want the pasta to be dry when they are filled.
In a large bowl, mix the drained sausage, onion, salt, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, parsley and beaten egg. Fill the shells with the sausage mixture.
Pour 3/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Place the filled shells in the dish and pour the remaining sauce over the shells. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. (Photo D)
Cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Remove the foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.
If you are making two 8 x 8 in baking dishes, it can be frozen with the sauce or without. (Photo E) I have done it both ways and it works well. Bake the frozen shells for 45 minutes with the foil. Remove the foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.