So, this is what happened: I was at the grocery store getting the stuff to make my stuffed shells when I realized…I wasn’t in the mood to make my stuffed shells. I was being lazy. Stuffed shells are great but you have to boil off the large shells first and then let them cool enough to handle and blah, blah, blah…I just decided to make a faux version. Because…it’s easier and just as delicious.
This recipe serves four to six.
1 pound of shell pasta (I used a whole wheat variety)
1 pound of ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
1 (8 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 (14 oz) can of diced tomatoes
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened (so half a brick)
2/3 cup of breadcrumbs
about 1/2 a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for garnish
chopped basil to garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a 9×13 baking dish with Pam. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water up to a boil. Once boiling, drop the pasta and cook to al dente about 7 or 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add in a drizzle of EVOO along with your ground beef. Brown your beef until browned and crumbly. Stir in a big pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in your chopped onion and saute about four minutes. Stir in your chopped garlic and Italian seasoning blend and saute a minute more. Next, stir in your tomato paste, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes along with your cream cheese. Reduce heat to low and simmer together about five minutes (making sure the cream cheese melts in).
Drain the water from your pasta and add hot pasta to your ground beef mixture. Toss together and then pour into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle your breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese over the top of your casserole.
Pop your casserole into your oven and brown 15 to 18 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s browned and bubbly.
Remove from oven and serve immediately with a little extra garnish of Parm and a sprinkle of torn basil.
All the flavors and textures of stuffed shells…but in a casserole instead.