Amy over at Amy's Kitchen Creations is having a baby! In fact, her little girl is due any day now. Carrie from Carrie's Sweet Life thought it would be nice to host a virtual baby shower where the theme was simple meals for new moms, with an emphasis on meals that can be made ahead and frozen.
As I was helping SP unpack the groceries the other week I found a box of jumbo pasta shells. I had asked him to buy shells for the Panera mac and cheese I was making but I hadn't specified the size of the shells so he bought the jumbo. I realized I had never made stuffed shells before, so this seemed like a good time to fix that. I had printed out Maeghan's recipe for Stuffed Shells with Beef and Cheese awhile back and couldn't wait to make it.
I didn't know this recipe made so many shells (I admit to not reading all of Maeghan's post), so I was thrilled when I realized I could get two meals out of one afternoon of cooking. I filled all the shells, placed half in the baking dish for that night's dinner and half on a baking sheet to freeze. This is a perfect dish to make for new parents - you can give them a half order to eat now and a frozen, fully-assembled dish for another time.
These were positively delicious. I loved the beef mixed with the cheese, although I was surprised there wasn't any egg in the filling. SP thought the filling was a bit dry because of that but I didn't agree, especially when the shells were smothered in his amazing Sunday Sauce.
I thought stuffed shells would be too much work but this was a really simple recipe to make. The filling takes no time at all to put together. I think shredding the mozzarella cheese took more time than filling the shells. Thanks for a great recipe, Maeghan! And congratulations Amy and Matt!
To see what everyone else made to celebrate Amy and Matt, click here.
Stuffed Shells with Beef and Cheese
As seen on The Way to His Heart
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 lb ground beef
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package of Jumbo Pasta Shells
1 15oz container ricotta cheese
16oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups marinara sauce
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, onion, and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until meat browns. Remove and let cool.
Brush 1 teaspoon of olive oil over large baking sheet. Cook shells, 4 to 6 minutes, still firm to the bite. Transfer to oiled baking sheet.
Combine ricotta, half the mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste and mix. Stir cooled meat into cheese mixture.
Brush remaining 2 teaspoons of oil on a 9x13 glass baking dish. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill shells with the cheese and beef mixture. Arrange half the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon remaining sauce over. Place the other half on a separate baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and freeze. Once frozen, place shells in a freezer bag for future use.
Sprinkle remaining mozzarella, then remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over pasta. Dot dish with butter slices.
Bake uncovered until sauce bubbles on side of dish, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes.