There are some pasta shapes that are begging to be filled with delicious ingredients. Shell pasta or conchiglioni is one of those types. These shells are stuff-able and bake-able.
When I bought the shell pasta, my husband asked me when I would actually make time to do this. I reminded him that sometimes I bake things at 10 p.m., so I would for sure find time to make these. Well, yesterday was a bit trying since it was SLOW at work until the last 45 minutes. Of course, this is when we needed to carpool and I was the picker-upper. Then traffic just sucked.
Yes, I know I live in Wisconsin where the biggest city is still relatively small compared to larger cities. You're welcome to your 6-lane highways. I get fed up with slow drivers when we have only 3 lanes!Plus, it was starting to get really cold and snow. Now, I love snow, and it will be perfect for my sister's holiday wedding coming up, but I just didn't want it to snow right then since we wanted to go running. What to do?
|It's hard to tell, but that is snow on my windshield (taken after cooking - not while driving).|
I (mostly) followed this recipe for Three Cheese-Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce by one of my all time Kitchen Crushes, Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman. This woman is an amazing cook. Also, if I ever thought I could be a red head, I'd want her hair.
Anyway, here is the recipe that I used. It is almost the recipe that Ree used. She has awesome pictures and the full recipe on her site, so you should check it out. Or, if you accidentally bought the wrong cheese and spinach instead of basil, you can use mine below:
Pasta and Sauce Ingredients:
- 12 oz, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
- 5 cloves Garlic, Minced or crushed
- 1 lb ground beef or Italian sausage
- 1/2 cup Red Wine
- 1 whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 cup pasta sauce
- 15 oz, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
- 1 heaping cup of Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
- 15 oz cottage cheese (the smaller the curd, the better)
- 1 whole Egg
- 2-3 handfuls of spinach, washed and chopped
- 1 tsp dried basil or a few leaves of the fresh stuff if you've got it
- Salt And Pepper, to taste
You're going to start with the sauce because it takes longer. First, heat up the olive oil in a large skillet. When that's hot, but not bubbling, toss in the diced onion and crushed garlic cloves. Let those cook away until the onions start to get all soft and fragrant. When that happens, add in a pound of ground beef. Break that up so it's in small, bite-size pieces and let it brown, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, get water boiling and cook the pasta shells as directed, but only for half the time. I kind of forgot the HALF part, so I think my shells were too soft and that's why they ripped easily. Fortunately, cheese works as a good glue to hold things together!
|Ground beef + onions + garlic + spinach + tomatoes + wine = happy smelling kitchen|
By now your pasta is done. Drain it and set it aside. So that you don't get ANOTHER pan dirty, you should put in the spoonful of reserved meat juice in the pot that you cooked the noodles in. Take the two large handfuls of spinach and chop it up. Put the chopped spinach in the pot and let it cook down. If you don't, all the water from the spinach will make the shells kind of runny. Once those are all limp-looking, then you should take them out of the pot so they can cool. You can always put it in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly.
|Our house was chilly, so I just set it on a plate on the counter.|
I have no idea how that one onion jumped in with the spinach.
|Not that this looks much better, but there are no weird half scrambled egg bits.|
Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees uncovered. This is enough time to run two miles and walk a little cool down. Or if you discovered that you and your husband under-dressed for running in the snow, run about a mile and then come inside and do this abs/core routine:
- 10 sit ups
- 10 leg lifts
- 10 side leg lifts
- 10 push ups
- 10 side leg lifts on the other side
- Repeat! I go around so I'm on my back, my right side, my stomach, my left side and then back again.
When it's all done, it's is basically stuffed shells with cheesy goodness that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. I would have called Ree just to thank her for this recipe if I could have tracked down her number. Lucky for her, I was in a cheesy coma enjoying a relaxing end to a weird Monday. Also, that would have been creepy, and I'm not like that.