Sometimes you just want to pork out and settle down with some comfort food. Forget dieting. Forget only eating a rabbit’s cuisine … go ahead and stuff your shells and top it with massive amounts of cheese — you deserve it! Not to mention the fact that it is utterly delicious.
1 Pre-cook jumbo shells very al dente: Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil (1 Tbsp salt). Add the jumbo shells and cook until flexible but still quite firm (about 9 minutes if using Barilla shells).
You want to undercook the shells at this point so they will be firm enough to stuff and will continue to cook when you bake the pasta dish.
Drain in a colander and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Separate the shells so that they aren’t folded into each other.
2 Brown the sausage, onions, garlic: While the shells are cooking start on the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Break up the sausage with your fingers as you add it to the pan.
Cook the sausage just until still a little pink, then add the finely chopped onions. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are translucent. Use a wooden spoon to break up the chunks of sausage into smaller bits.
Add the garlic and cook a half minute more.
3 Add tomatoes, water, parsley, salt, pepper: Add the canned crushed tomatoes and all of their juices to the sausage and onions. Add water (you can add water to the can, swirl it around to get what’s left of the tomato juice in the can), chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
Taste the sauce. If it tastes too acidic (this can happen, depending on the acidity of the tomatoes) you might want to add a teaspoon of sugar to balance the acidity.
Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to the lowest temperature to keep the sauce warm while you work on stuffing the shells.
4 Make mint ricotta stuffing: In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, chopped mint, egg, salt, and pepper.
5 Stuff the shells: Use a spoon to stuff about a heaping tablespoon of mint ricotta stuffing into each of the pasta shells.
6 Layer sauce, shells, cheese in casserole dish: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish with a little less than half of the sauce.
Arrange the stuffed shells on top of the sauce. Cover with the remaining sauce.
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and grated Mozzarella.
7 Bake: Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in a 350°F oven.