Dinner Tonight: Sausage and Pesto Stuffed Baked Shells (and a Giveaway Winner!)

I think I'm finally back in the routine of cooking regularly during the week. Frozen pizzas only taste good for so long, you know? Besides, I feel more like myself when I have time to be in the kitchen for longer than a few seconds to turn the oven on (or open up the fridge). For tonight's dinner, I made pasta shells stuffed with a combination of ricotta cheese, Italian sausage, and pesto. My inspiration was Emma's scrumptious looking version. But I wanted to beef mine up (pun totally intended, even though I know sausage is pork) with some sausage for my meat and potato loving husband. 

So here's the recipe (and I just made half of this recipe--it was enough for two plus leftovers):

Sausage and Pesto Stuffed Baked Shells

Box of jumbo pasta shells
Olive Oil
1 lb Italian sausage (spicy or sweet, whatever you like)
Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 to 2 cups ricotta cheese (full fat or low fat; if you use fat free don't tell me about it)
1/2 cup store bought or homemade pesto
zest and juice of one lemon
2 (or more) cups marinara sauce (depending on how saucy you like things)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook shells in boiling water according to package directions, just make sure to take them out a little early. They will finish cooking in the oven. When the pasta is done, drain it and run it under cold water to make the shells cool enough to handle. 

Meanwhile, brown up the sausage, seasoning it with salt and pepper. When it is brown, put the sausage in a large bowl to cool.

When the sausage has cooled for a few minutes, add the ricotta cheese, pesto, lemon zest and juice to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together and taste to adjust seasonings. 

Pour a little bit of marinara in the bottom of a large casserole dish (so the shells don't stick). Stuff each pasta shell with a tablespoon or two of the filling. (Note: my measurements are approximations. I never can make the exact amount of filling to correspond with the number of shells. Do your best. If you have extra shells, no one will know if the dog gets a couple. I wouldn't recommend giving her the filling though.) Put the shells in the casserole dish as you fill them.

Once all the shells are in the dish, pour the marinara sauce over the shells. Top with the shredded mozzarella. Bake for 18-23 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Enjoy!

Now, for the winner of the $45 CSN Giveaway! Thank you so much for all who entered, and thank you for all the tips. I enjoyed reading them and I learned some things along the way! And the winner is...

Comment number 17, Jenny of Spry on the Wall! (Jenny, random.org must really like you!) I will be e-mailing you soon with your gift code! 

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  1. I think I could eat sausage every day. HAHA. That looks SO good!

  2. Congrats Jenny!!! These little suckers look pretty awesome to me...they remind me of something my Mom used to make....I could sooo do these with crumbled Morningstar Farms fake burger meat:)
    Do you have any other vegetarian recipes? As you post ones I can use, lol...I write them down..no pressure sister....you just have some of the best recipes EVER!

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