Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells


Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Monday. Let’s do this. We will probably be eating these stuffed shells for dinner tonight since I had bright idea to freeze half of the batch and tuck them into our freezer last week. Three cheers for thinking ahead! I love when I do that.  God knows I didn’t have energy to do any meal prep yesterday because I was too busy watching the SEASON FINALE of True Detective.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Stuffed shells always seem like a real treat, don’t they? My grandma made them for us on special occasions. We left our plates clean!  I really wish I could get Cooper to try them so he could have the same childhood experience, but I’ll just continue making large batches and freezing half for Casey and I. We’re big fans and my coworkers sure enjoyed the leftovers.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Stuffed shells are for those who like lasagna but don’t want to commit having to cut gooey/messy squares and while fighting for edge pieces. Shells are scoopable! One? Two? Four? Easy. I’m not sure why we didn’t have these more when I was a kid. They honestly don’t take that long to make. Once you have a rhythm going it’s smooth sailing. These shells  in particular are fortified with sausage & kale. You can easily omit the sausage if you desire. The kale tastes just like spinach and nicely mixes with the cheesy ricotta filling. I think you’ll like it. I think you’ll like the stash you put in your freezer for future Mondays even more.

And we’re off!

First we start with the kale & sausage mixture. We’re gonna need to cook it.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Sausage, olive oil and red pepper go into a hot skillet. We break down the sausage.

You could always use hot Italian sausage in the filling. Just add less red pepper flakes.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Keep cooking the sausage. Add in the chopped onions. Cook until they are sweated.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

KALE TIME.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Add the kale in. Cook for a few minutes until it gets soft. Add chopped garlic and cook for 2 mins.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Let mixture cool. We’re gonna chop it up so it mixes nicely with our filling.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Filling ingredients!!

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Mix it up. Line a baking dish with marinara sauce.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Filling is ready.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Cook the shells! Transfer them to a paper towel lined baking sheet.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Let the assembly begin.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

All lined up.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

I used an 8 x8 baking pan and a 13 x 9 baking pan for this whole batch.

I’m pretty sure they would have all fit if I put them in the bigger baking pan.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Top with sauce. Top that with mozzarella.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

YES.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Batch gets wrapped up and put in the freezer. Aluminum foil goes on the batch headed for the oven.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Bake. Serve. Parsley garnish.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

But seriously. Let’s just eat it all.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells // shutterbean

Can I ask you a question? Is it weird that I like my pasta cold instead of hot?

Discuss.

Sausage & Kale Stuffed Shells

makes 8-10 servings (about 36 shells)

  • 1  12 oz. box jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Italian sausages, removed from their casing
  • 1 heavy pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1lb. ricotta cheese
  • 1  large egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 6-7 cups marinara
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375F

In a medium non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add Italian sausage and a heavy pinch of red pepper flakes and cook sausage, breaking up into small bits with a wooden spoon, about 4-5 minutes. Add chopped onion and sauté with the sausage until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Follow with the chopped kale and continue to cook until kale softens, another 3-4 minutes.  Add in minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, making sure not to brown garlic. Turn off heat and let sausage & kale mixture cool. When cool enough to handle, place the sausage & kale mixture on a cutting board and roughly chop for filling.

In a large bowl transfer sausage & kale mixture and stir in ricotta, egg, oregano, basil, Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley. Season with freshly cracked pepper and a pinch of kosher salt and stir evenly to combine.

Cook jumbo shells in a large pot of boiling water according to instructions. Drain noodles, and lay shells on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Set aside to cool.

Line the bottom of a 13 x9 baking dish with 2-3 cups marinara. To stuff shells, fill each shell with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sausage kale mixture.  Layer shells in the prepared baking dish. When all shells are stuffed, pour remaining marinara on top, making sure to cover each shell. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella, cover baking dish with aluminum foil and transfer baking dish to an oven to bake for 30 minutes. Take off aluminum foil and cook for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling.

If baking from the freezer, cook for 45-50 minutes at 375F.

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  • Maryea {happy healthy mama}

    I would be a lot happier if I had a batch of these in my freezer right now. My little ones are weirdos, too, though, who won’t eat food like this. They have no idea what they are missing! This looks incredible.

  • Patri

    Yummmm this looks like heaven right now!!!! (It’s 1PM here and I’m starving!!!)
    Regarding your question… sorry but no! I can’t eat any supposed hot meal when it is cold… I don’t like it at all. Maybe I’m a weirdo…. :S
    There is just one exception, spanish omelette! It’s as good hot or cold 😀
    Happy Monday Tracy

  • Mallory

    Oh my heavens…I LOVE pasta cold. Like, make pasta, refrigerate it, and then eat it cold. Every one thinks it is weird…but they just don’t know how good it is!

  • Natalia (basmatilime.blogspot.com)

    Cold left over pasta is the best thing ever….regardless of the sauce drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and you’re in heaven….
    This dish looks delish by the way!!! My kids will go nuts over this for sure

  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health

    these are great for weeknight dinner..

  • Keegan

    Stuffed shells always seemed so intimidating to me but you make them look easy! Thanks for being awesome and thanks for the awesome recipe.

  • Caz

    I’ve eaten cold pasta for my whole life. I do enjoy hot pasta when it’s fresh, but I will never, ever reheat it. I prefer to eat it cold as leftovers. So good.

  • Cindy

    I prefer my pasta cold too! Sometimes, I make it and just put it in the fridge to eat later.

  • Ande

    Cold pasta leftovers were soemthing my husband introduced me to, now there is no other way.

  • Stephanie.

    These look soooo good! But I just know I’m going have trouble finding large pasta shells over here in England. Sigh…

  • Lizy Tish

    These look so delicious! I love the idea of freezing some – I’m all about planning ahead that way. Especially on Mondays…

  • Jamie

    I have a tentative relationship with marinara-sauce-infused leftovers on a good day so yes, you’re weird to like cold pasta dishes. Hot and bubbly out of the oven? I’m all over that! = )

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed

    I love cold pasta, especially this kind. & leftover pesto pasta. Gotta gotta be al dente though – key! So no, that’s totally normal, I think 😉 This looks unreal & I am so making it soon, thank you! Feels like a saturday night at home with wine kind of meal. One glass while making it & another while eating & watching movies. Perrrrfect. x

  • Stacey

    I always get jealous when I see these on your Instagram; now I can have some myself! Haha, I mean I know that I could’ve had them before…I just wanted them Shutterbean-style!

  • Little Gray Pixel

    Something tells me your freezer is full of awesome food like this. Mine is like a wasteland with a few frozen pancakes. I need to start freezing meals; I’m sure my husband would be grateful.

  • Janae

    Oh man, yum! I went to the store and bought the ingredients for this today. However, I’m pregnant (like, about to pop any minute!) and so I think I’m just going to boil some smaller pasta shape, like mini shells, mix it all up with the filling, top with sauce, and bake. I just don’t think I have the energy to stuff shells at this point! And I will definitely be freezing half for later! Thanks for the recipe :)

  • Amy

    I am searching for gluten free pasta shells so that I can make a vegetarian version of this in our house! I was thinking of replacing the sausage with lentils?
    Really, I just want cheesy pasta baked in marinara sauce….
    Thanks for sharing, and I love that photo of the steaming pasta :)

  • stephanie

    I repinned to this today on pinterest, and HAD to make it tonight, so I did, and it was amazing! My 2 year old said it was “really really yummy!” And asked for seconds. Then my husband came home and said it was delicious as well. This recipe is perfect, comforting, and so tasty! A keeper for sure, thank you! I halved the recipe, but am already wishing I had the second pan in the freezer :)

  • Jayne @ Tenacious Tinkering

    I like a lot of my leftovers cold. There are many things that can be sandwiched cold between 2 slices of bread and be called lunch the next day. And I’ve printed the recipe out for this because my husband wanted to try this dish the moment he saw your pictures. LOL. Sounds promising!

  • Katie @ The Surly Housewife

    Woot!! I have been so excited to see this recipe since you posted them on instagram. They look soooo good! Plus I love the addition of kale. Pinned :)

  • Julie

    I’m hungry but too lazy to make this…

  • Anila

    Getting hungry seeing these yammy pictures

  • Candice

    I like cold pasta too. I tend to like savory food either at room temperature or cold, while I like sweet things warm like pancakes and cookies. Oh but wait, don’t ever serve me cold eggs or toast, yuck…lol.

  • Ann

    No to cold pasta but yum to cold pizza. I make spinach and ricotta cannelloni (or shells) often and I love your addition of sausage and kale. The kale I have bought in Australia looks different to your photo. It’s really thick and tough, a bit indestructible, so takes a lot to cook until tender. I think I’ll stick to spinach.

  • Maddie

    Made this last night…it was unbelievably good! Froze half and now will have another great meal next week. Thank you!

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  • Maggie

    I’m 35 weeks pregnant with my first baby and though I have happily prepared and frozen meals for expectant friends MANY, MANY times, I am totally uninterested in stocking up my own freezer lately. THIS recipe sounds so good – I am definitely motivated to make it and freeze half. Thank you!!

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  • Gen

    I just made this dish tonight because I had most of the ingredients already. My husband declared it as one of his new favorites! Thanks for the recipe!

  • maggie

    Great. I had everything on hand AND added some mushrooms. Delicious!
    We are eating from the large pan tonight and I’m giving the freezer batch to friends who just had a new baby! Having meals brought is a blessing when you have a new Baby and we didn’t get any meals brought over when we had our Baby, so I am paying it forward!

    These “Prep Once, Eat Twice” meals are so great. Tracy, do you know which other recipes you might already have that fit into that category??

  • christina

    http://instagram.com/p/lljPO1tIqt/

    I made this over the weekend and it was fabulous! I am going to add mushrooms next time.

  • Laura

    This filling is delicious! I stuffed peppers instead of pasta–we loved it. Thank you!

  • Bethany

    I love this blog so much! Thank you for all your hardwork to keep us happy with dinner. :) I made this yesterday and LOVED it! Like a few of the other ladies who’ve commented, I’m pregnant… This will definitely be in our freezer when I go into labor in May. It’s so so good! And really not too time-consuming at all. This batch made enough for probably 3-4 meals for my husband and I. Not bad for about an hour of work.

    • Tracy

      Fabulous!!! Good luck with your little one and congrats! I am so glad that these shells will be apart of your initiation to motherhood! xoxox

  • Mary H.

    Made this dish for our family and guests – a hit! Definitely a keeper! Thank you!!

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  • bev @ bevcooks

    I’m basically dead right now.

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  • joy

    SO DELICIOUS. SO SO DELICIOUS. I impressed myself. I often make your stuff, and this is one of my favorites!

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  • robin

    What’s your favorite store-bought Marinara?

    • Tracy

      It’s a tie between Classico Tomato Basil & Bertolli. It always depends what’s on sale at Target.

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  • Jessica Lillis

    Delicious food always make me hungry. Ha ha ha

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