Sausage & Artichoke Stuffed Shells (Dairy-Free)

8 servings
1 hr 20 min

These Sausage & Artichoke Stuffed Shells are hearty and delicious! They are packed with ingredients like sausage, artichoke hearts, spinach and a spicy arrabbiata sauce. This pasta dish will become a new family favorite in no time at all. And, bonus, they are dairy-free…but you would never know unless you were told.

My shells recipe does include a creamy “cheese” element, but it is plant based cheese. And because the brand is so well made, you can’t tell that it is not real cheese. That’s why when you go dairy-free you need to invest in using high quality products in your cooking. Believe you me, you will taste the difference!

This recipe is so good and so popular in my household. I’m proud to say that my step-son has declared it his new #1 favorite of all recipes that I have ever made.

Recipe Features:
  • Shells that are stuffed full with sausage, spinach and artichoke hearts
  • A dairy-free ricotta alternative
  • Contains meat, but you can easily omit it for a meatless meal

Ingredient Notes:

  • Marinara Sauce – The brand listed below is my current favorite. However, just as long as you use the right quantity you should be good to go.
  • Spinach – I use a 10 oz bag for this recipe. Also, if I have the time, I like to rip off and discard a lot of the long stems and tear the leaves in half as well. (I have used less and I have used more and 10 oz seems to be the perfect fit). Be sure to squeeze the spinach dry a bit with paper towels before adding it into the filling.
  • Ricotta – Kite Hill has a fantastic ricotta cheese alternative. The texture, taste and consistency is spot on. It is kind of expensive, but it is absolutely worth it. (Tip: Let it come to room temperature before using. This way, the mixture will be much easier to mix, and it will be easier to fill the shells).
  • Cheese – You can top the stuffed shells with fresh parm or mozzarella. I find that some fresh parm doesn’t hurt my stomach like other dairy products can. So, I do like to add a bit on top for fun.

What to Serve with These Stuffed Shells:

  • These shells are very hearty, so I recommend serving them with steamed or roasted vegetables, or a side salad. Give this Charred Lemon Broccoli a try.

For more pasta recipes, please give these a try:

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Sausage & Artichoke Stuffed Shells (Dairy-Free)

Recipe details

  • 8  servings
  • Prep time: 50 Minutes Cook time: 30 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 20 min
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  • Barilla Jumbo Pasta Shells, 25 count
  • 1 24 oz jar Rao's Spicy Arrabbiata Fra Diavolo Sauce (equivalent to 1.5 lb.)
  • 1 lb. Canino's Spicy Italian Sausage or Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage, cooked and drained
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 10 oz bag Fresh Spinach, torn or chopped, steamed and squeezed dry with paper towels
  • 1 8 oz container Kite Hill Ricotta Alternative, softened
  • 1 12 oz jar Reese Quartered Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained, patted dry and diced
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 3 tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Himalayan Pink Salt, to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes, optional
  • Optional: Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated


Preheat the oven to 350° F.
To a large bowl, add the ricotta cheese and set aside to soften.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook 2 minutes less than the time according to the package directions.
Drain the shells and then arrange them, in a single layer, on a cookie sheet to cool down.
In a large skillet, cook the sausage until it loses its pink, about 7-9 minutes. Remove, with a slotted spoon, to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Set aside.
In the same skillet, add the spinach and garlic, and cook until spinach begins to wilt but is still bright green. Remove from the heat and set aside.
To the ricotta cheese, add the artichoke hearts, sausage, egg yolk, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
Fold in the spinach, basil and thyme.
Spread a layer of the marinara sauce onto the bottom of the casserole dish.
Scoop about 1 - 1 ½ tablespoons of the ricotta mixture into each cooked shell, and place on top of the sauce.
Drizzle with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the tops evenly with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Add some additional basil or thyme right before serving.
Naomi Cook
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