Beef and Sausage Florentine stuffed shells

This is an original recipe.  This recipe comes from a family friend, John, many years ago.  He was the cook in his family.  I’m not sure how he came up with this and honestly the name he gave it I choose to not title it with.  We lovingly still call it by this name at home, but had I posted it with this name, I am sure you wouldn’t even think to give it a try.  So, you are probably wondering what the name is.  Think Dr. Seuss, maybe you can guess it.

Anyway, this is another easy recipe and despite the fact that there is spinach in the recipe I have not yet found a kid that didn’t like these stuffed shells.  Though, the green color of the meat (hint, hint as to what we call this at home) can sometimes cause a few kids to turn their noses up at first.

What you will need:

  • Large roasting pan
  • Large fry pan
  • Large pot for boiling noodles
  • Olive oil
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Jumbo sea shell noodles – 1 lb box
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1.75 lbs Lean hamburger meat  (90/10 or 93/7)
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage (or Sage flavored ground breakfast sausage)
  • 2 cans chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

Pre-cook noodles until they are about 3/4 the way cooked; rinse in cold water to stop cooking process and allow shells to cool to handle.  While the shells are cooking, open and drain the 2 cans of spinach,  Press to get as much water out as possible.  Place spinach in a bowl and add the brown sugar and lemon or lime juice; mix well.  Cook hamburger meat and sausage in large frying pan.  When meat is cooked, drain grease from meat and add to the spinach mixture.  Mix spinach and meat together very well.  The meat will look green (ah ha another hint!!) when mixed completely.  Stuff each shell with the spinach and meat mixture.  Spray or sprinkle the bottom of the roasting pan with olive oil (I use a spray olive oil).  Place the stuffed shells in the pan.  Once all the shells are stuffed, pour as much of the spaghetti sauce as you would like on top of the shells and then sprinkle generously with mozzarella cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, then remove foil and back until cheese is well melted and starting to turn golden.

Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and freshed snipped basil and/or parsely.  Warm crunchy crust Italian bread and salad goes nicely with this.  As does a nice glass of wine 🙂 And if there wasn’t enough spinach in this recipe for you, it would be nice with a side of wilted spinach.

See.  It’s easy!  though it does create a few dishes to wash but there is time to wash while the meal bakes.  Or if you are lucky like me you may have a husband or partner willing to wash the dishes for you.  And once you’ve eaten this, you can sing “I’m strong to the finish, ‘cuz I eat my spinach!  I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!  Toot toot!” 

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