Figuring out what to make for dinner is tough – especially on week nights. While I don’t make the same things every week, it is almost a certainty that the week will contain something with chicken, something Mexican and something Italian, and last night was Italian night. I decided to try stuffed shells – something I had never attempted. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated because I thought it would be a pain in the butt to stuff them (like manicotti), but I got a wild hair and decided to try them anyways. Turns out, it was really easy. I found that if you hold the shell in your hand and squeeze it just so, it opens up nicely and you can easily spoon the cheese and the sausage and tomato sauce into the shell. It does take a little time to stuff them all, but truthfully, much simpler than I anticipated. I enjoyed the goat cheese / sausage combo so much in the lasagna I made a couple of weeks ago, that I decided to give it another go.
I tried out some new tomatoes with this recipe because a couple of weeks ago I saw a video on CNN about the 5 things you should never eat, and canned tomatoes was on the list. So I’ve had a little bit of a dilemma, I’ve been trying to make my own sauce from “scratch” (and by scratch I don’t mean boiling fresh tomatoes, but rather using canned tomatoes and adding my own seasoning), but this information has had me second guessing myself. Until, while at Publix this weekend, I noticed that they finally started carrying tomatoes in a box! Hallelujah! No more BPA! So I will have to adjust my recipes for the 26-oz package, but even with that hiccup, I’m thrilled.
Disclaimer: I’m not claiming that I’ll never again use canned tomatoes or eat canned tomatoes. So please no calling me a hypocrite if one of my future recipe contains them. However, to the extent that these are available, I will use them.
Sausage and Goat Cheese Stuffed Shells
24 to 30 jumbo shells, cooked according to box
2 cups prepared marinara sauce (I used Classico)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Sausage and Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage (I used mild Italian chicken sausage, removed from casings)
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
26-oz box of tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
2 cups ricotta cheese
5 oz goat cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and break apart with spatula. Cook until browned.
2.) Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, wine, basil, oregano and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes (it’s good to time it so it is simmering while your shells are boiling).
3.) In a bowl, mix together ricotta, goat cheese and mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
4.) Take about 1 cup of prepared marinara sauce and spread it on the bottom of a 9″x13″ casserole dish. Placing each shell in your hand, take a spoon (I used one of my dinner spoons) and first scoop the cheese mixture in the shell, using your thumb and the shell to scrape the cheese off the spoon. Next use the same sized spoon to scoop the sausage tomato sauce into the shell. Place in casserole dish and repeat.
5.) Using the remaining marinara sauce, drizzle it over the shells. Sprinkle the shells with mozzarella cheese and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes.