A while ago, I decided I wanted to expand my recipe repertoire. For meal planning, I usually rotate my family’s favorite meals. I have about a dozen or so “go to” dishes that I make so often that the recipe is etched in my memory. We also have some seasonal favorites ~ soups and stews for cold weather months / salads and grilled meals for summer time. There is a fine line between “routine” and “being in a rut” … I was starting to feel like my dinner menus were in a rut. So, since Monday is usually the least busy day on my schedule, I came up with the Monday’s Menu idea. When my schedule allows, I try out a new recipe that I found on Pinterest, Facebook, in a magazine or an “old school” cookbook 🙂
Yesterday I made Stuffed Shells. I’m calling it my own recipe, because I sort of took bits and pieces from a few recipes (cookbook, Pinterest and pasta box) plus some shortcuts from the pantry and created my own version.
From my pantry:
- 1 box Jumbo Shell Pasta
- 2 jars marinara sauce
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese (save some for melting on top)
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- ½ bag fresh spinach
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ lb lean ground beef
- salt & pepper
I boiled the shell pasta in salted water following the directions on the box. I added some olive oil to the boiling water to help the pasta not stick together. When I drained them, some still stuck together and actually curled inside each other so I separated them carefully (they tear easily).
For the filling, I started out by mixing the three cheeses together with the egg. I diced the onion and garlic, then sautéed them in olive oil. I added the fresh spinach to the pan and wilted it down. Then I added the spinach onion mixture to the cheese and egg mixture. I seasoned the ground beef with salt and pepper, and then browned it in the same pan (taking advantage of the leftover onion/garlic flavor). I mixed the meat into the filling and added some more salt and pepper (to taste). To start assembling, I first poured a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the 9×13 pan. I used a teaspoon to fill the shells and kept going til the filling was gone (I had lots of leftover shells, I’ll tell you how I used them in a moment). Then I drizzled the marinara over the shells and sprinkled on the extra mozzarella cheese. Actually, I forgot to sprinkle some Italian Seasoning and Garlic Powder on top, but I’ll remember for next time. I baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes or so … til the cheese was melted to a golden brown 🙂
There were lots of pasta shells left after the filling was gone, so I improvised. I had a bag of frozen meatballs in the freezer and a block of mozzarella cheese in the frig. So I stuffed the remaining shells with a couple meatballs and a chunk of mozzarella. I drizzled the remaining marinara sauce and sprinkled on some grated Parmesan cheese. I stuck a 9×9 pan of them in the freezer for a future meal … I hope they are yummy 🙂
My husband and I both gave my recipe for Stuffed Shells “2 thumbs up” ~ give it a try and let me know how you liked it. What recipe would you suggest that I try for next time ??