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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped yellow onions
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, broken into pieces and their juices
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 4 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/2 12-ounce box (18 to 20) jumbo pasta shells
- 2 cups finely chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 pound fresh Italian sausage, removed from casings or ground veal
- 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Emeril’s Essence
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chiffonade
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, basil, oregano and black pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce and paste, water and sugar, and stir well. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until thickened and fragrant, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole dish with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pasta shells, and cook until al dente, 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally with a long-handled spoon to prevent the shells from sticking together. Drain and rinse under cold running water.
In a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring, until very soft, 6-7 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the squeezed spinach and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Add the spinach-sausage mixture, the extra-virgin olive oil, Essence, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the basil, oregano, and pepper, and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the spinach-ricotta filling into each cooked pasta shell. Place the filled shells in the prepared dish.
Pour tomato sauce over the filled shells and top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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