I am a carbs fiend. I love bread, and pasta, and especially potatoes. So you can imagine when I get a craving, well people run… until I am done cooking that is. But hey, at least they’re working up an appetite!
So it happens that I had a craving for noodles and a meaty, vegetable filled tomato sauce. While grocery shopping I decided to grab the ingredients to make a tomato sauce, and in the pasta isle, I saw gigantic shells. Inspiration ran up behind me and hit me upside the head again! Stuff the shells with cheese, veggies and meat, then bake them on a plank until gooey and delicious!
METHOD Tomato Sauce
Start with making the sauce. In a large pot, over medium-low heat, brown the 1 lb. of your chosen meat. Add the chopped onion once the meat is half cooked along with the garlic powder. While the onion and meat are browning chop 6 of the tomatoes into bite sized chunks and remove the core. Add them to the meat and onions, and add 1 tbsp. of the italian seasoning.
The other 9 tomatoes need to be cored and then put into a food processor or blender until they are smooth. Once smooth, add the tomatoes to the onions and meat and other tomatoes. Add the remaining italian seasoning.
Bring the tomato mixture to a simmer, while the tomatoes are getting there, chop the other veggies and add them to the pot. Start with the carrots, then the peppers, mushrooms, then garlic. For a little more bite, feel free to add hot peppers or spices to the sauce.
Add the tomato paste and allow the pot to simmer on low for at least an hour, it will be fine still simmering until you are ready to use the tomato sauce.
Wash the spinach leaves gently in cold water. Place the spinach in a pan and turn heat on to high. Shake the pan until the spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and allow the spinach to cool a little.
Add the spinach and mozzarella to the ricota cheese and mix well. Set aside.
Preheat the grill to medium, about 350°F. Grill the sausages until they are done. Carefully chop them up into small pieces. Leave the grill on, you will be baking the shells soon.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the shells 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Please follow the cooking instructions on the box of noodles, that is what mine took, but every manufacturer is different.
Now that the fillings and toppings are ready, we can assemble the shells.
On a presoaked plank, line up 6 shells. The first layer inside the shell is the grilled and chopped sausage, feel free to use something like a spicy italian if you like the heat.
Using a spoon or piping bag, fill the shell the rest of the way with the ricotta mixture.
Pour the fresh tomato sauce over top of the filled shells, then sprinkle them with the shredded mozzarella cheese.
Plank bake the shells for 10 to 15 minutes over indirect heat until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the fillings are hot.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
Like I have said. I love my carbs. And this pasta dish is no exception to the rule. I really cannot begin to describe how good this was. You will have to try it and find out. If you are a fan of spaghetti and meatballs, or lasagne, this is definitely for you!