Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stuffed Shells

We have had company in town this past week, so I hadn't been to the store and I hadn't prepared a list for the week either. I was going through my freezer to see if I had anything on hand for dinner. I always forget what I put in there. I was very excited to see that I had a ricotta cheese mix from the last time I made lasagna. I like to make double whenever I make sauces or ricotta mixes. Thankfully, I also had ground sirloin and frozen chopped spinach too. The pasta I had in the pantry were jumbo shells...this dinner is sounding yummy already and I didn't even have to go to the store!

Stuffed Shells
Serves 8-10

1 pound ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced 
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 tsp of Italian Seasoning
1 box (12 oz) jumbo pasta shells 
24 oz Marinara Sauce, reserve 1/2 cup for the end

Preheat oven to 375*. In a large non-stick pan, cook ground sirloin on medium-high heat until browned. Take out of pan and place browned meat on a plate lined with paper towels to help soak up excess grease. 

Wipe the pan with a paper towel. Place pan back on heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add garlic, onions, and bell peppers. Add salt and pepper. Cook until onions are transparent. Once the veggies are cooked, place in a large mixing bowl.

Bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil. Salt the water. Cook pasta shells 3 minutes less than the box instructs. I cooked mine for 9 minutes. Drain and drizzle with olive oil. 

Mix 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, ricotta, egg, spinach, and Italian Seasoning together.  Add the cooked ground sirloin. I use my hands to mix it all together, it breaks up the spinach better that way too.


Pour all but 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 dish. 

Stuff the shells with the ground sirloin and cheese mixture. I use my hands here too. Hold the shell in one hand and stuff with the other.


Place shells on top of the sauce. 


Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top.


Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray, cover the dish with that side facing shells. This will prevent the foil from sticking to the cheese. Cook for 35 minutes. Take foil off and drizzle remaining 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce over the shells.


Cook for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese on top is brown and bubbly. Serve with your favorite salad and some crusty bread.

-Use a paper towel to squeeze out all the water in the spinach. 

-There will be some cheese mixture and shells left over. You can either put more in the dish or make a smaller batch for another time and freeze, or give some to your friends/neighbor. I give my extras to my father-in-law. :)

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