Unstuffed Shells over Whipped Ricotta

Friday, April 16, 2021

This was inspired by Half Baked Harvest, and she used an additional lemon basil oil drizzle which I left out.  It was delicious without this, perhaps next time I will give that a try, looking to incorporate some pumpkin puree into this dish for the next go around.  It IS much easier than stuffing shells, but I don't have any preference either way, stuffing only takes about 5 more minutes.  It's definitely a keeper recipe, and look how pretty it turned out.  I am definitely all about the pretty, without all the fuss of food styling.


Servings: 6

Prep time: 20

Cook time: 20


  • 1/2 pound ground spicy Italian chicken sausage - I used sliced, it's what I had
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, whipped in the food processor, if desired
  • 1 pound jumbo pasta shells or figure 3 shells per person
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes crushed
  • 2 cups chopped greens, such as kale, spinach, or chard
  • 1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (or 1 tbs fresh oregano)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves (or 1 tbs fresh thyme)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • Optional:  1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Bring a big pot of water to boil, and cook the shells according to the package directions, drain, set aside and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. 
  2. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, add the sausage and break it up as it cooks, about 5 minutes or so.  Add the shallots and continue cooing for another 5 minutes.  Season the mixture at this point with the oregano and thyme, salt and pepper. 
  3. Add the tomato paste, using the back of a spoon, smear it along the bottom of the pan to semi mix with the sausage mixture.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the crushed tomatoes.  Judge what your liquid level is and if too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. 
  4. Add the greens, stir, add a lid to the pan and lower the heat to low, simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the shells to the tomato mixture and some of the basil. 
  6. In the meantime, whip that ricotta in a food processor until smooth and creamy, when ready to serve, smear the ricotta onto the bottom of the bowl, add your desired amount of shells.  Garnish with additional basil.


Italian, Stuffed Shells, Unstuffed Shells, Whipped Ricotta, Garden Tomatoes, Basil

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