Hearty, comforting, and a complete crowd-pleaser- these Italian stuffed pasta shells are an absolute must-try.
Consider me a fan of casseroles and baked dishes. I simply love digging into the slightly browned cheesy crust on the top, followed by layers of soft, saucy, deliciousness. But truth be told, they are also one of the most effortful and time-consuming foods to put together.
And that’s why, I’m obsessed with these Italian stuffed pasta shells, which I turned into a nice baked dish. With just a few simple steps and ingredients, you can replicate it in your kitchen too, and treat yourself to a comforting, filling, and lip-smacking delicious meal.
But before you get right into the recipe, here’s a bit more you should know about it.
What Else Can I Add to the Stuffed Pasta Shells?
I’ve used a simple filling of cheese, ground meat, mushrooms, and seasonings to make the Italian stuffed pasta shells, but you can actually add a lot more into the mix, based on your personal preference.
Throw in some pine nuts or chopped walnuts for a little crunch factor, or add some green peas or corn for some extra healthy goodness.
Can I Skip the Ground Meat?
You definitely can! Vegetarians can stick to using just the other ingredients for the filling, and throw in some chopped veggies too. Spinach is a classic you can never go wrong with, but that’s not all; you can try using chopped bell peppers, carrots, onions, and zucchini too.
If you don’t have ground beef, you could also make do with ground chicken or turkey- just keep in mind that the cooking time will differ.
Tips to Make the Italian Stuffed Pasta Shells
Think you’re ready to give the recipe a try? Keep these additional tips and tricks in mind to make sure you nail it.
- Don’t have pasta sauce? You can actually put some together on your own in a matter of minutes. Just saute some chopped garlic and onions in butter, pour in tomato puree, and season with salt, pepper, and chilly flakes.
- You could also make do with store-bought pesto sauce if you’re not a fan of the classic marinara sauce.
- While this recipe calls for a blend of mozzarella cheese (for the stretch) and cottage cheese (for the bulk), you can also use ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese or any other cheese or cheese blend of your preference.
- You can also add an egg into the stuffing mixture along with the other ingredients.
- For some extra freshness, don’t forget to add a generous sprinkle of chopped coriander or basil leaves on the top.
Serving Ideas & Suggestions
These Italian stuffed pasta shells taste great all on their own- you don’t need to put any extra effort into serving them. But if you really want to, you can team them up with some traditional Irish soda bread to mop up all the juices, or some crunchy everything bagel keto crackers. I also like to make some grilled chicken caesar salad skewers on the side to make it all a complete meal.
Stuffed Pasta Shells
- 12 oz package jumbo shells
- 1 lb ground beef
- 4 oz mushrooms
- 16 oz cottage cheese
- 16 oz mozzarella cheese
- 48 oz pasta sauce
- 1 tbsp italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Add ground beef to a medium skillet, and sprinkle with some of the italian seasoning and garlic, then add salt and pepper. Brown the ground beef over medium heat, and drain grease.
- While the meat is cooking, fill a large stock pot halfway with water, then add the pasta shells. Boil on high until pasta is al dente.
- While the meat and pasta are cooking, chop the mushrooms
- Add cottage cheese, 12 oz of the mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, the rest of the italian seasoning and garlic, along with a dash of salt and pepper to a large bowl. Once the ground beef is done, add that, along with 16 oz of the pasta sauce. Stir well.
- Once the shells are cooked, drain, and rinse with cold water until they are not steaming hot, as you will be handling these with your hands.
- Cover the bottom of a large casserole dish with a thin layer of pasta sauce.
- Using a small spoon, fill the pasta shells, and set them gently into the baking dish, side by side.
- Pour pasta sauce over the shells, as well as the remainder of the mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve hot, and sprinkle servings with parmesan cheese if desired.