Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mama Mia Stuffed Shells with Vodka Sauce

Isn't it frustrating when you make something that looks and tastes amazing in real life, but you can't seem to capture it on camera? That's what happened to me today when I made these awesome stuffed shells.

I've made stuffed shells in the past, but I wanted to try something a little bit different this time. While I knew what I wanted to use for the stuffing, I remembered that my co-worker Wendy makes a tomato-vodka sauce that she loves, and a similar sauce I made before tasted really good. So I thought I would combine the stuffed shells and the vodka sauce and see what I could come up with.

Well, the fusion of the recipes certainly did not disappoint. With four, count 'em, four types of cheeses, sweet Italian sausage, and the tangy vodka sauce, I'm glad that I made extra. Can't wait for lunch tomorrow, yay leftovers!

However, a few things led to the not-so-great photos. First, I was hungry and these smelled amazing. Second, I didn't have any patience. Third, the sauce covers up the sausage stuffing, so you can't really even tell what they are. BUT... you'll just have to take my word for it that these are super good and need to make them, like, yesterday. It might look like a lot of ingredients and work, but trust me, they are totally worth it.


1 (12 oz.) box jumbo shells
1 lb. (approximate) sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 (10 oz.) box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 (15 oz.) container ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 Tbs. dried parsley flakes
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder, divided
1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1/2 c. vodka
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 c. mascarpone or cream cheese
1 c. (about 8 oz.) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook jumbo shells until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook Italian sausage and onion. Remove from heat and drain any excess fat. Place in large bowl, and cool slightly. Add ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, spinach, dried parsley, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

In another skillet over medium heat, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, vodka, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, red pepper flakes, dried basil, and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. Add in mascarpone cheese, stirring constantly until fully melted and incorporated. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin assembling stuffed shells by filling each shell with a spoonful of meat mixture. Place in large baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over shells. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of shells, and place baking dish in oven. Bake until mozzarella is hot and bubbly on top, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly, dish and enjoy!


  1. I'm so glad I find your recipe! I love pasta, and I will admit I rather enjoy vodka, so I am definitely looking forward to trying this recipe :)

  2. The photos look nice to me :) I love seafood =)

  3. Oh wow. Looks DIVINE. That list of ingredients made my mouth water!

  4. oh, wow, those look awesome! that's going on the list for next week!

  5. i have beensearching the web and i am so glad i found your has been the most authentic thus far...

  6. I used your recipie several months ago and it was by far the most delicious pasta dish I've ever made. My boyfriend eating a good 15+ shells is a testament to that!

    I had to look it up again because I misplaced it and have had a hankerin' for another round!

  7. I have just completed making this. Except I used store bought sauce. It was delicious! :D thank you for the post :)

  8. Yummy! I've been looking for a recipe like this. Looks great!

  9. Just made this and it was delicious! We substituted manicotti for the jumbo shells. This will definitely be a go to dish! Thanks!