Saturday, April 14, 2012

Italian Stuffed Shells

(This recipe was first posted in conjunction with the Meijer Ad Week of 4/15/12 - 4/21/12)

Although the picture doesn't look like much more than a pile of cheese and sauce, this casserole really is fabulous!  It's one of our favorite Italian dishes.  Your kitchen will smell amazing when this is in the oven.

1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 - 24 oz jars spaghetti sauce ("flavored with meat")
2 tsp sugar
20-22 jumbo pasta shells
2 C cottage cheese
3 C shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp garlic powder

Brown and drain ground beef.  Return to pan and add spaghetti sauce and sugar.  Cook on medium until mixture begins to bubble.  Reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, cook pasta shells according to directions on box.  Drain and set aside.  Mix together the cottage cheese, 1 1/2 C mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, and garlic powder.  Fill each shell with cheese mixture.  Place shells in a greased 9x13 pan, or divide between two 8x8 pans.  Pour meat sauce over shells.  Make sure that all pasta has at least a thin coating of sauce.  Cover pan(s) with foil.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Uncover, top with remaining 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, and return to oven.  Bake, uncovered, 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serve with bread and salad.

Options and Tips
  • Freeze the remaining half jar of spaghetti sauce immediately if you don't think you'll use it in the next few days.
  • Speaking of freezing, this recipe freezes wonderfully!  I almost always divide it into two 8x8 or 9x9 pans and freeze one (or give it away).
  • If your pasta is cooked but the sauce and filling are not finished, rinse the pasta with luke-warm water and then return it to the pan.  Cover the shells with luke-warm water and let them stand until you're ready for them.  This will prevent the shells from drying out.
  • If you prefer a chunkier sauce, add 1 cup of diced tomato and 1/4 cup diced onion to the ground beef.  Cook it all together, and then drain the grease and juices before adding the spaghetti sauce to the mixture.

The inspiration for this recipe can be found on page 253 of South Holland Ladies' Auxiliary's "Prized Recipes to Cook and Savor" cookbook.  I made a quite a few changes to the ingredients and instructions.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome recipe! We absolutely loved it!! We didn't get started eating supper when I planned, so the 5 min. baked uncovered turned into 15 min. and the cheese was starting to get a touch of golden brown in spots. But, that slightly chewy texture to the cheese on top was really good! Thanks for the recipe!