These shells are the perfect balance of pasta, meat, sauce, and cheese. Anyone you share these with, if you choose to be generous, will be hard pressed to say no to seconds (or thirds, or…). An added bonus: you can make them in advance and freeze them for a quick weeknight meal. Serve with garlic bread, and you’re a quintessential Italian.
Stuffed Pasta Shells
Serves: 4 (or 6 as a side)
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
- 1 box of giant pasta shells
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 2 tsp. basil
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (divided)
- 1 jar marinara sauce (16 oz)
1. Prepare pasta according to packaging directions. My box gave me two cooking times: 1 to eat the shells right out of the pot, and one to prepare them for baking. Choose the “bake them” figure, or subtract two minutes from the “eat them” time.
2. Reserve 1/3 cup of your cooking water once they are done, and drain the shells. Set them aside to cool.
3. Cook your ground beef. Drain off any fat. Add to the pan your reserved pasta water, garlic powder, oregano, basil, parmesan, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Mix to combine.
4. Cover the bottom of a 9×13 inch glass pan with a thin layer of marinara sauce.
5. Fill each shell with a scoop of beef mixture, and lay it in the 9×13. Continue until all of the beef is used. Cover with remaining marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.
6. If you’re going to freeze the shells for later, this is the point at which you would do so. If you’re not, cover with foil, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake for 3 more minutes, or until cheese gets a little brown.
7. Serve with garlic bread and a little more parmesan cheese–if that’s your thing.
What other make-ahead/freezer meals do you like?