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Unstuffed Shells - A Family Feast

Unstuffed Shells

Unstuffed Shells is a deconstructed version of a classic stuffed shells recipe. Tender pasta shells are layered with sauce, sausage, and cheese – then baked until hot and melty.

Yield: 10 servings 1x
Prep: 30 minutesCook: 1 hourTotal: 1 hour 30 minutes


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup onion, diced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage (removed from casings)

1 pound medium pasta shells

2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese

1 whole egg

1/2 pound sliced provolone cheese, diced and divided

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated and divided

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided

1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

2 teaspoons fresh mint, minced

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

Few grinds fresh nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 quart of your favorite tomato sauce, or make your own


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray a 9x13x3-inch casserole dish with pan spray.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions for three minutes. Add garlic and cook one more minute.
  3. Add sausage meat and cook until browned, breaking up into small pieces as you cook. Drain off fat and discard and set the cooked sausage mixture aside.
  4. In a large pot of boiling salted water, add pasta and cook about four minutes shy of fully cooked. Pasta should be chewy and will cook further in the oven. Once cooked, drain in a colander.
  5. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, whole egg, half of the chopped provolone, half cup of the Parmesan, one cup of the mozzarella, all of the parsley, basil, mint, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  6. In a separate bowl combine remaining provolone, mozzarella and Parmesan.
  7. Heat sauce to hot.
  8. Place a cup and a half of sauce on the prepared pan bottom.
  9. Pour in half of the cooked drained shells. Top that with half of the cooked sausage meat mixture and half of the ricotta mixture, spreading to the edges. Add half of the remaining sauce and half of the remaining dry cheese mixture.
  10. Repeat layers using the remaining ingredients and place the finished casserole in the oven uncovered and bake until hot and bubbly, about 35-40 minutes.
  11. Place under the broiler to brown the top. Remove from the oven.
  12. Let rest ten minutes before serving.

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© Author: A Family Feast
Cuisine: Italian Method: baked