Ground Chicken Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

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Ground Chicken Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1-pound ground chicken sausage, casings removed
  3. 2 cups onion, chopped
  4. 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  5. ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  6. 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  7. ½ cup ricotta or mascarpone cheese
  8. 12 ounces fresh spinach, blanched, squeezed dry, and chopped
  9. 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  10. ¼ teaspoon sugar
  11. 1-box pasta shells (about 18 shells)
  12. 2 cups Italian crushed tomatoes
  13. 3 cups heavy cream
  14. ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  15. 4 ounces coarsely grated Fontana cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat the chicken until golden brown, stirring to break up the pieces, about 6 minutes. Add half of the onions and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly caramelized and very soft. Add 1-tablespoon garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir in the ricotta or mascarpone cheese, spinach, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and sugar. Stir to combine well.
  2. Lightly grease a deep 9 by 13-inch casserole or lasagna pan and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells until just al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Pat shells dry. Stuff the pasta shells with the chicken-spinach mixture and place in the prepared casserole dish. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and sauté the remaining chopped onions until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook until the sauce is reduced in volume by about 1/3, about 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Pour the sauce over the shells in the casserole. Sprinkle with the fontina cheese and the remaining Parmesan. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce is lightly browned in spots and bubbly around the edges, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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