When I was a young girl just out of high school I worked as a waitress at the only Italian restaurant in China Town in Los Angeles. I know that is an odd location for an Italian restaurant, but it was a landmark and people flocked to it anyway. I usually worked during the lunch hour rush and at the end of my shift I would prop myself up in the kitchen on a stool and watch the chefs work. I would watch them as they prepped for the dinner time crowd, sitting on my stool with a sugary ice tea in hand. They used to prepare a creamy cheese shell pasta dish on certain days with little bits of ground beef in it, and garnish the top with a whole hamburger patty. On those days I would reserve my appetite for a bowl of cheese and beef shells and pray that I would be the lucky one to get the grilled burger on top.
Since those waitressing days are far behind me, and I don’t get the chance to spy on the cooks very often anymore, I have since made a pasta shell rendition of my own. Something that will take me to days past, and something that my son will eat until we decide it’s enough and stop him. Here’s the whole reason I’m telling you this story…. Farmer John has these beautiful new smoked sausages that are popping up in the deli section of most major markets. I saw them in several mouth watering flavors (Wine and Cheese, Smokey Peppers and Queso, Arrabbiata) and wondered which would make my pasta shell dish come to life. I decided to shake up my old favorite dish with a sausage switcher instead of beef and replace the burger with Farmer John smoked sausage instead. Happiness all around, my family was full of smiles when I served them this!
For more sausage switcheroo recipes and meal inspirations, visit FarmerJohn.com/recipes
Ingredients for cheese and sausage shells:
- 1 – pound medium pasta shells (cooked according to box)
- 1/2 – tablespoon olive oil
- 1 – cup onions (chopped)
- 1 – package Farmer John Smoked Sausage (I used wine and cheese) (4 sausages total: chop 3 sausages into 1/2 inch pieces, and reserve 1 for the top)
- 2 – cups broccoli heads (stems removed)
- 8 – ounces monterey jack cheese (grated)
- 8 – ounces mozzarella cheese (grated)
- 1 – stick butter
- 1 – tablespoon garlic (minced)
- 3 – cups 1/2 and 1/2
- 1/2 – teaspoon Lawry’s
- 1/2 – teaspoon black pepper
- Boil pasta according to box, drain and set to the side.
- In a large frying pan over a medium flame, add in olive oil and allow to get hot.
- Add in onion and cook for 3 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
- Add in 3 of the chopped smoked sausages and cook for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.
- Add in broccoli and cook until bright green about 2 minutes. Remove mixture from flame and set to the side.
- In a large bowl combine pasta, sausage/broccoli mixture, and grated cheese. Then place mixture into a baking dish.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- While the oven is preheating, in a large frying pan over a medium flame melt butter, and add in garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add in 1/2 and 1/2 and cook until it starts to boil. Add in Lawry’s and black pepper.
- Pour mixture over pasta.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Fry or grill remaining sausage, and when you remove pasta from oven garnish with whole sausage on top.