When I put together the ingredients for this dish to be photographed, I thought, “Surely I’m forgetting something!” But I wasn’t. Stuffed Shells is a simple pasta dish that looks and tastes like you spent a lot of time in the kitchen. It’s also a meal that can be prepared in stages, which is great for entertaining.
This is all you need…
Start by browning the sausage and ground beef with the garlic. No need for extra oil here. The sausage and beef will add enough to help cook the garlic.
After that’s done, drained, and cooled, you can mix it in with the mozzarella and cream cheese. I didn’t have plain mozzarella, so I used an “Italian blend” of mozzarella and Parmesan. At this point you can refrigerate this mixture up until you’re ready to use it, up to one day in advance.
Cook the shells. Alternatively, you could use half as many manicotti shells (as the original recipe suggests).
You want to undercook them slightly, so they will be somewhat rigid. This is helpful when stuffing the shells. The pasta will continue to cook through in the oven, so you don’t need to worry that they’ll be underdone in the final dish.
They fit cozily into an 8″x8″ pan, on top of a little bit of sauce.
Top with more sauce, and some Parmesan cheese. To save yourself some time, use storebought spaghetti sauce. I won’t tell. Of course if you feel like making your own… by all means, go right ahead!
Serve with some garlic bread and a nice green salad. This dish makes great leftovers, so make sure to save some for later!
Adapted from Taste of Home, April & May 2006
16 uncooked jumbo shells
1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage
1/2 lb ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 to 2 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups meatless spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook shells according to directions, undercooking by 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown sausage and ground beef with garlic. Remove from heat and drain. Let cool approximately 10 minutes. Drain and rinse shells under cold water. Mix together meat, cream cheese, and mozzarella. Layer one cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of an 8″ by 8″ pan. Stuff shells (slightly less than 1/4 cup mixture per shell), placing close together in pan. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer, until bubbly and heated through.
Serves 4 to 6.