This is an easy, inexpensive dish which makes a lasagna pan-full per one package of turkey sausage. Any preferred sausage may be used. Also Smart ground (meatless vegetable protein) may be used, which would make the dish vegetarian.
*It's fun to have the kids help stuff the shells after all the parts have been prepared.
-one package (12-16 oz.) turkey, other meat sausage or 1 package Smart ground original-12oz.
-1 10 oz. package frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and drained until dry.
-1 32 0z tub part-skim ricotta cheese
-12-16 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese (may be sliced or shredded)
-½ cup grated good quality parmesian cheese.
-24 oz marinara sauce (may be jarred or home made)
-about a half tablespoon each of dried (or tablespoon fresh) chopped basil and oregano
-2 large cloves garlic, chopped.
-Whole package (16 oz?) jumbo pasta shells
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-salt, black and red pepper to taste.
No nutrition information available
Follow directions to cook jumbo shells. Make sure they are cooked al-dente. Run collander of drained shells under cold water and set aside.
Uncase all sausages, discard casings.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil. Crumble in sauages (or veggie protein) and stir a bit to coat with oil. Add chopped garlic, basil, oregano, salt(optional, as meat is often salted) black and red pepper. Cook until all meat is browned.
Put cooked mixture in large mixing bowl and combine with: 32 oz.ricotta cheese, ¼ cup parmesian cheese, chopped spinach (make sure it has been squeezed dry first)
(You may want to taste and adjust salt and pepper at this time.)
Grease lasagna pan with oil and ladle some room temperature marinara sauce on the bottom.
Line up cooked shells, filling, lasagna pan, and tablespoons so they are all within easy reach. (Call the kids to help at this point, if desired)
Pick up each shell one-by-one, open with fingers. Take a heaping tablespoon of filling and place it gently into each shell then place filled shells into rows in lasagna pan. Do thin until all filling is used. (This may come out to one to two layers in pan, depending on how much filling is placed in each shell.)
When pan is full of stuffed shells cover with marinara, then layer with mozarella cheese and sprinkle with parmesian cheese. If there is another layer of shells put this on top of sauce and cheese and then retop with marinara, mozarella and parmasian.
Cover with foil. Stab some holes in the foil.
Bake in pre-heated, 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover if you like the top crispy, bake for another 15 minutes. If you like the top soft, just bake covered for 1 hour. Let cool slightly before serving.