- 12 oz dried jumbo pasta shells
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 28-oz cans pelled tomatoes or whole tomatoes
- 1 15-oz carton whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/3 cups grated or finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 15x10x1-inch baking sheet and a 3-quart oval or rectangular baking dish.
2. Bring a large pot of water with 1 T salt to boiling. Add shells and cook just until slightly tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain pasta and spread in a single layer on baking sheet so they don’t stick together.
3. In a large skillet heat 1 T of the olive oil over medium heat. Add beef and 1 clove of garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir 6-8 minutes until no pink remains. Transfer to bowl, set aside.
4. For tomato sauce, in a second skillet over low heat combine remaining olive oil, remaining garlic, and undrained tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until thickened somewhat, breaking up tomatoes with the back of spoon.
5. Stir 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture into ground beef, add ricotta and 2/3 cup of the Parmigiano cheese; stir until combined.
6. Spoon 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce into prepared baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 1 T meat and cheese mixture. Arrange shells in prepared baking dish. Spoon remaining tomato sauce over shells then sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup cheese.
7. Bake about 30 minutes, until filling is heated through and top is golden brown.
From Better Homes & Gardens, September 2011, Recipe by Donatella Arpaia (in our recipe binder collection)
Gray: I thought this was yummy, but I think I prefer other baked pasta dishes. I always loved the stuffed shells that they served when I was in school, and these were good but I think we have made better. I did really enjoy the sauce made with whole tomatoes. It had a good texture and you got a good bite of tomato when you had one. This was very mildly flavored and personally I would have liked some oregano, basil, and more garlic. All in all, this was a good recipe, but we’ll probably keep looking for a different version.
Katie: This recipe looked so good in the magazine! While it was good, it just wasn’t my favorite Italian recipe. I make a mean lasagna and I prefer the way that is flavored to this recipe of stuffed shells. The lasagna has mozzarella, which I think this recipe was lacking. I also liked the chunky tomato sauce, but this was pretty thin and I prefer it thicker. I also agree with Gray about the spices; this dish just wasn’t very flavorful! So since making stuffed shells wasn’t as hard as I have always thought, I will probably make them again… just not with this recipe!