Smoky Sausage-and-Collard Stuffed Shells

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Step up your stuffed shells game with this decadent recipe.

Smoky Sausage-and-Collard Stuffed Shells
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
Servings:
4

Forget everything you know about stuffed shells—our Smoky Sausage-and-Collard Stuffed Shells are everything you've been missing. This version, which boasts a smoky sausage and veggie filling, is nothing like plain old ricotta-filled baked noodles. Cheesy, smoky, and decadent, these stuffed shells with sausage are sure to impress your dinnertime crowd.

What really makes these stuffed shells stand out is the sausage-and-collard filling. A jar of Alfredo sauce acts as the base for the cheesy filling. With a substantial dose of Southern-favorite collard greens, this indulgent pasta dish also helps you squeeze those veggies in. Make it vegetarian by swapping out the turkey sausage for a plant-based version (such as MorningStar Farms Veggie Italian Sausage Style Crumbles). We add in a combination of smoked Gouda for flavor and whole-milk ricotta for creamy richness. Combine the cheese mixture with the sautéed sausage, collard greens, and onion to finish the stellar filling for the shells.

Broiling the shells after baking creates the cheesy, golden-brown crust of your dreams, providing the perfect textural contrast to the tender pasta. Plus, after dinner, you only have one big skillet and a pasta pot to clean. We call that a win-win.

Ingredients

  • 20 uncooked jumbo pasta shells (from 1 [1-lb.] pkg.)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 pound mild or hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

  • 4 cups chopped stemmed collard greens (from 1 [12-oz.] pkg. collard greens)

  • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced Vidalia onion (from 1 onion)

  • 2 (15-oz.) jars Alfredo sauce (such as Rao's)

  • 6 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups), divided 

  • 1 ½ cups whole-milk ricotta cheese (from 1 [15-oz.] container)

  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F with rack about 10 inches from heat source. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions for al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Arrange in 1 layer on a clean, lint-free kitchen towel; set aside until ready to use.

  2. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a 12-inch high-sided broiler-safe skillet over medium-high. Add sausage; cook, stirring often, until sausage crumbles and begins to brown, 6 minutes. Add collard greens and onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; wipe skillet clean.

  3. Return skillet to medium heat; add Alfredo sauce and ¾ cup of the Gouda. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; keep covered.

  4. Add ricotta and remaining ¾ cup Gouda to sausage mixture in bowl; stir to combine. Spoon about ¼ cup mixture into each pasta shell; place, filled side up, in sauce in skillet. Sprinkle panko evenly over top. Bake in preheated oven until sauce is bubbly around edges of skillet, about 15 minutes.

  5. Keep skillet in oven, and increase oven temperature to broil. Broil until panko is golden brown, 4 to 7 minutes.

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