Sausage and Collards Stuffed Shells

Do you ever start to tire of certain items in your CSA box from week to week?

Though I always do my best to find creative uses for all of the produce that we get each week, this year I have definitely started to have my fill of a few things – especially mini orange peppers and collard greens.  I’ve never been much of a greens person, so that’s always one of my big CSA challenges.  We get kale, chard, collards, and lots of varieties of lettuce.  While they may all be good for me, I have to admit that I usually end up going back to the same things over and over when it comes to cooking with them.

One of my tried and true flavor combinations for greens is to pair them with spicy Italian sausage.  I know I’m not the first person to utilize that flavor combo and I’m certain that I won’t be the last, either.  Though I have revisited the flavors a few times (like this butternut quiche a few weeks ago…), I do try to find ways to incorporate the flavors into new dishes.

This time around I settled on some stuffed shells.  I had a box of jumbo shells in my pantry that has been just waiting to be put to good use. I always enjoy making stuffed shells because they freeze so beautifully. Once frozen, they are ready and waiting for an easy weeknight meal (and they don’t even need to be defrosted before they are baked!). What could be better for a cold evening or a busy night?

Sausage and Collards Stuffed Shells
(Makes approximately 8 servings)

  • 1 – 12 ounce box of jumbo shells
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bunch (about 10 ounces) collard greens, thick stems removed and chopped
  • 1 – 15 ounce container of part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground Pepper
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Additional cheese for sprinkling on top (Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzerella, or your favorite)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cook the shells according to the package directions, drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage in the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Once the sausage has cooked, add the onion and continue to cook until tender and translucent, about 4 minutes.  Gradually stir in the chopped collards and wilt them into the sausage mixture.  Cook just until the collards have wilted down and are bright green, an additional 4 minutes.  Let the mixture cool slightly.

While the sausage mixture cools, stir together the ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and egg. Add the sausage mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Stir to fully incorporate the sausage mixture into the ricotta.

Fill the cooked shells with the ricotta and sausage mixture (I find that a disposable piping bag with the tip cut off works perfectly for this!).  Arrange the filled shells in the baking dish and top with marinara sauce.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes until bubbly.

Alternately, if you plan to freeze the shells, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Place the baking sheet in the freezer overnight.  Once the shells have frozen, remove them from the baking sheet and transfer them to freezer bags or tupperware containers.

When you are ready to bake the frozen shels, simply remove the shells from the bag/container and place them in a baking dish. Top with marinara sauce and cheese, and bake until bubbly.  Frozen shells will most likely take closer to 60 minutes to bake.

15 Responses to Sausage and Collards Stuffed Shells

  1. I have some collard greens in my fridge right now–I’ve been waiting for some divine inspiration for them. I think I’ll make these this weekend to freeze and have on hand for a tasty weeknight dinner!

  2. In the directions you say to add the collards to the spinach mixture. Is spinach missing from the ingredients? I will check back or tweet about it. I have collards now and want to try this recipe. Sounds good. Did you like it?

    • Oops! I actually meant to say the “sausage” mixture. Not sure where spinach came from! Sorry about that.

      Hope you enjoy this recipe if you give it a try! I loved the combination of sausage and collards… Perfect for a cold evening!

  3. I love stuffed shells but I rarely, if ever, make them. I need to remedy that this winter. It would be so nice to pull these out of the freezer for a quick weeknight meal :)

  4. I saw the title in my blogger dashboard and knew it was your post before I even read your name, you are always so creative! I’m from Iowa and not quite used to this southern collard greens and such, but these shells sound good!

  5. This is a fabulous recipe! I love shells stuffed with spinach (boy, collards would be fab) and cheese (which you have) but the addition of hot Italian turkey sausage makes it sound just perfect! Now if I could only find hot Italian turkey sausage here :-/ Beautiful!

  6. Just made this after getting collard greens in our produce box this week. It was a hit and my 7 year old said he wouldn’t stop until his plate was clean. Thanks for the recipe!