Stuffed Shells: What’s NOT to Love?

This week my son and I made stuffed shells together. (Don’t you love the picture taken by my son?! One might get the idea that I’m June Cleaver … Ha! We all knowbetter!) While my two-year-old was in school, my oldest and I set up an assembly line in the kitchen and stuffed shells, shredded Parm and made a bloody mess. This is such an old-school, yummy recipe, and you can make enough for two dinners and freeze some for another time. (Which should be some consolation for all the clean up involved!) I served mine with a mixed salad, but you could add sauteed spinach to your sauce to make a complete meal. Sorry, this isn’t fat, gluten or dairy free, but so good for a special treat!

Prep: 50 min. Bake: 30 min. Oven: 350 F

Ingredients:

12 oz dried jumbo pasta shells

3 – 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef, organic preferred

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped, or two teaspoons pre-chopped lazy garlic

2 28-oz cans peeled and diced tomatoes, or whole and squeeze and chop yourself. (Doctor this with Italian spices, basil, pepper.)

2 handfuls of garlic-marinated mini button mushrooms (found at Trader Joes or other stores in section with olives)

1/3 medium red onion chopped.

1 15 oz carton ricotta cheese (low fat if preferred)

1 1/3 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a baking pan or two, as you may want to freeze a batch.

2. Bring a large pot of water with a pinch of salt to boiling. Add shells and cook until slightly tender, 5 minutes. Drain and arrange a single layer in baking pans.

3. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and salt and pepper to your liking. Stir 2 to 3 minutes. Add beef and continue to stir 5 minutes or until no longer pink.

4. For tomato sauce, in a second skillet over low heat, combine remaining olive oil, garlic and undrained tomatoes and mushrooms. Season with Italian spices: a dash or oregano, pepper and basil. Simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture into ground beef, add ricotta and 2/3 cup of the Parmigiano cheese; combine well.

6. Fill each pasta shell with approximately 1 tablespoon meat and cheese combo. Arrange shells into prepared baking dishes and spoon sauce ontop and around. Sprinkle remaining shredded Parmigiano cheese on top.

7. Bake 30 minutes. Enjoy!

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