Comfort Food – Spinach & Sausage Stuffed Pasta Shells

On this chilly Sunday, the Christmas decorations are coming down and football is on TV.  With only a few more weeks until Superbowl XLVII, another NFL season is sadly coming to a close (tear).  Seeing as the living room is quickly filling up with friends over to watch the game, I head to the kitchen to feed their hungry bellies.  Nothing says football comfort food better than a warm, bubbling, cheesy pasta casserole baking in the oven on a blustery winter day.  I had some leftover Italian sausage in the fridge, along with some smooth-leaf spinach so I hunted down a recipe which featured both of these ingredients.  I found a recipe for Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells and got to work.  The trickiest part of this recipe, or any recipe involving cooking pasta shells, is making sure you don’t over-cook them prior to stuffing or you will end up with a pile of ripped, limp shells.  The pasta shells bake again after stuffing so aim for “al dente” shells, firm but not hard.  Since my sausage had already been cooked, I did a quick re-heat with the sauteing vegetables in the frying pan.  After mixing up my cheese stuffing mixture and spreading a generous amount of marinara in my casserole dish, I began packing the ricotta mixture into my shells and lining them up in an orderly fashion.  With a covering of sauce and some sprinkling of mozzarella, these babies were ready for baking.  For 30 minutes, the house smelled like a little Italian restaurant and the bellies began to grumble.  Covered in rich marinara sauce and filled with creamy goodness, they didn’t last long once I pulled them out of the oven.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!  Image

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