Baked pasta shells are a fun variation on other assembled pastas like lasagna or cannelloni. Very easy to make, the only way you can really screw this up is if you undercook the pasta. The classic stuffed shells are made with spinach, so for a slight twist try this recipe instead.
These shells are stuffed with arugula rather than spinach, turkey sausage, and baked in a quick tomato cream sauce. In this recipe it is particularly important to taste as you go, as it is a sum of it’s parts and can easily turn out under-seasoned. Make lots and your family can enjoy leftovers for a few days.
Stuffed Pasta Shells with Turkey Sausage, Arugula and Ricotta Cheese(serves 4-6)
Put a big pot of water on to boil. Once it has boiled add a palmful of salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Check to make sure it is tender all the way through before removing from the water. Drain. Give the pasta a rinse and set aside the shells for stuffing. If they start to want to stick together, you can remove them and place them on clean kitchen towels. When the pasta is cooking work on the stuff and sauce.
Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add the olive oil, and give the pan a swirl. Add the diced onion. While the onion starts to cook, slice down the side of each sausage and through the casing, remove and discard casings and break the sausage into the skillet. Cook the sausage mixture, throughly breaking up the sausage as it cooks. When the mixture is fully cooked, add the fresh arugula and minced garlic, stir and toss until the arugula is wilted. Remove from the heat.
When the sausage mixture is cooking, put the can of tomatoes into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat to simmer and reduce. Use a spoon to break up the tomatoes. Add a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt and a pinch of chili flakes. When it has thickened, taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Leave heat on low until ready to use. Turn on oven to 350F.
When the sausage mixture is at least partially cooled you can combine it with the ricotta. (If for any reason you weren't able to break up the sausage into small enough pieces, you can always give it a chop first.) Toss the ricotta with the sausage and arugula. Taste. Add salt and pepper as necessary, this will largely depend on the seasoning in the ricotta and sausage.
Turn the heat back under the tomato sauce until it is on medium low. Stir in the cream and simmer for a minute or too to combine, stirring regularly. Taste and season.
Spread a large baking dish with 1/3 of the sauce. Stuff each shell with a healthy amount of the sausage mixture and place in the baking sheet face up. Spoon sauce over top, making sure each shell has a bit. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Transfer to the oven for 20 minutes or until throughly hot and bubbly.
Serve hot with a big salad