Aunt Phil’s Un-Stuffed Shells

Makes 4 to 6 servings

One 12-ounce box medium pasta shells

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing

1 pound bulk Italian sausage
Two 28-ounce cans peeled San peeled tomatoes

1 cup full-fat ricotta cheese

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, shredded

1 egg

One 16-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 garlic clove, minced

Dash ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 to 7 slices fresh mozzarella

4 to 5 basil leaves, torn

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the shells and cook until al dente
according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and cook the sausage in large chunks
until just no longer pink in the center, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
4. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl and, using your hands, crush them into chunky pieces. Set

5. In another large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded mozzarella, egg,
spinach, garlic, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix with a spoon until smooth. Fold in the cooked
noodles and set aside.

6. Grease a 3½-quart cast-iron Dutch oven with oil, and spread about a third of the tomatoes
across the bottom. Top with about half of the shell mixture and spread it out evenly. Distribute
about half of the cooked Italian sausage on top. Repeat the process with half the remaining sauce,
all the shells, and all the sausage. Top with the remaining tomato sauce.

7. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Top with a layer of the fresh mozzarella slices and bake for 10
minutes. If you want bubbly brown cheese, place under the broiler for 2 minutes or so, watching
carefully so it doesn’t burn. Let the whole bake cool for a least 10 minutes and serve with a big
ol’ spoon.