The first time I tried to make lasagna was on Christmas Eve. I was probably around 12- and I had decided that I was going to tackle the meal my own. I told you I've always loved to cook. :-)
I made lasagna, mashed potatoes, and oatmeal cookies.
Why that combination, I have no idea, but it kind of became a tradition for many years of Christmas Eves to follow. That and eating this crazy meal by candlelight. Because...why not?
Anyway, what I really remember about putting that meal together? What a pain it was trying to work with pre-cooked noodles. They tore and they stuck and they were annoying. It didn't take long for me to realize that precooking those noodles was a completely pointless act and that I could easily make the same lasagna with a tiny bit more sauce and use noodles straight out of the box. In fact, I kind of ran with the knowledge that I didn't have to fight with pre-cooked pasta and never used it in any baked pasta dish again.
Manicotti? Dude. Why deal with wibbly-wobbly cooked noodles when it's so much easier just to stuff them straight out of the box?
There's no reason to deal with the extra time and the headache of dealing with easy-to-tear floppy pasta. If you simply use just little bit more sauce than you normally would the pasta absorbs the extra liquid and cooks right there in the oven!
Anyway, so to be honest, today I was going to write about manicotti. I was going to make some delicious manicotti.
Turns out my grocery store doesn't have manicotti noodles. Please tell me what kind of grocery store doesn't have manicotti noodles.
I had zero desire to travel on down the road to the next grocery store so TAH-DA today I bring you lovelies Easy No-Boil Stuffed Shells!
Totally the same recipe I would have shared with manicotti, just a different shape. :-)
So I started with very simple, pretty basic filling- ricotta (of course), mozzarella, Italian sausage, and seasonings.
One of those perfectly simple and delicious concoctions.
But here's where I pushed it over the edge: Ragú Homestyle Thick and Hearty Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce.
Ok guys...yes, this is a sponsored post. But that does not negate the fact that YES I'm 100% in love with this sauce.
I love homemade sauce. I love homestyle sauce. I love that fresh-picked, hand-made flavor.
I'm honestly a bit of a pessimist when it comes to pretty much any sauce that comes from a jar.
This sauce is all of that.
THIS SAUCE IS AMAZING.
So there I was, stuffing the shells and setting them in the cooking pan. As I set a shell down in the pan I got a little bit of the sauce I had spread in the bottom of the pan on my finger and I licked it (cause you know...homecooking...)- fireworks.
Serious fireworks in my mouth. I kid you not. The real, honest-to-goodness roasted garlic flavor in this sauce was so prominent, so delicious, so unexpected from a jar of pasta sauce.
It's amazing, guys. I don't use those words lightly. I will absolutely be keeping a jar of this sauce in my pantry for last minute meals!
I was just totally blown away.
But back to the recipe.
So the shells have been stuffed with creamy cheesy, meaty goodness. I used shells- because my normally awesome grocery store failed me- but feel free to use this same recipe with manicotti shells instead.
Next up, the sauce.
So what I did is use extra sauce just to give the pasta a little more liquid in which to cook. Not only does this method make life a little easier when it comes to assembly, but it also means that the liquid the pasta is absorbing is super flavorful, so your dish is also super amazing!
Once the pan was filled to with as many stuffed shells as I could stuff in there I dumped in the sauce until the shells were totally submerged, wrapped the whole mess in foil, and shoved it in the oven.
This could not be easier. Once it's in the oven, those shells work their magic with the sauce. The sauce absorbs into the pasta until the shells are tender like you want them. The extra sauce cooks down and thickens up and coats the outside of the shells.
15 minutes before you pull the shells out of the oven, take off the foil and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and panko so it gets even more amazing on top.
What's not to love, right?
Serve it with a nice green salad and you have one tasty meal! Perfect for feeding your family an amazing easy, flavorful, homestyle meal even when life gets crazy. Check out the whole line of Ragú Homestyle sauces to learn more and find a taste of home!
Easy No-Boil Stuffed Shells
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 lb ground Italian sausage
32 oz Ricotta cheese
8 oz Mozzarella, divided
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
12 oz jumbo shells
3/4 C panko
1. Over medium heat, sauté onions for two minutes. Add Italian sausage and cook until onions have softened and sausage is brown. Set aside.
2. Combine ricotta, 4 oz mozzarella, Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt, and black pepper with stand mixer. Mix in onions and sausage.
3. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread enough pasta sauce on bottom of two 9"x13" pans to cover bottom. Stuff each shell completely with cheese mixture and place in pan. Repeat with all shells. Cover shells completely with remaining pasta sauce and cover pans with foil. Bake for 1 hour.
4. Take pans from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and panko. Return to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.