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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Stuffed Pasta Shells

Do you like pasta shells?
If so, this is the dish for you.
So, I saw an advertisement to replace your ricotta with
cream cheese in your lasagna recipe.
I've done that before, so I decided to try it with my pasta shells recipe.
Here goes.
I am using sausage for this recipe, but ground beef is great or no meat at all.
Brown the sausage.

I am also using purple onion, because Daddio used all the yellow
onions yesterday in French onion soup.

Drain the sausage on a paper towel and add onions to the pan.
Artichokes are my favorite in pasta dishes.
If you've seen my lasagna recipe, you know.

Little artichoke soldiers. 
 I stand them up so the liquid will drain out while I am chopping.
They still need a little squeeze to get all the liquid out.

Add artichokes to the onions to brown and bring out all
the great flavors.

I always keep a bag of bell pepper strips in the freezer.
Strips for fajitas that can be chopped for other recipes.
Mmm...fajitas sound good.
(So far, since we have been trapped in our home because
of the blizzard of 2011, I have gained a half pound from boredom eating.)

Add chopped peppers to saute.

Once the sausage and veggies are cooked, rinse out the pot and
fill with salted water to cook the shells.
Cream cheese out to soften.

Veggies and sausage have been transferred to mixing bowl and add cream cheese.
I let it sit on top of hot veggies for a few minutes to soften some more.

Mix it up, baby!
Wow, that looks really great.

While you are waiting for the shells to cook, shred up some cheeses.
I had Gruyere, Parmesan and mozzarella in the fridge.
Grate all and mix together.

This shells recipe calls for a can of tomatoes instead of pasta sauce.
I really like this.
You get more of the pasta flavor and filling/cheese without the sauce
overpowering everything.

The instructions for the pasta says to boil for 12-15 minutes.
I only cook for 8-9 minutes so the shells won't fall apart and they
will continue to cook in the oven later.
Add a little tomato juice to the pan.
Stuff them up.

After you stuff and place shells in the pan, cover with diced tomatoes.
Just tomatoes, nothing else has been added.

Sprinkle cheese mixture over all.

Now the most very important step.
Don't bake it.
Cover it up and put it in the fridge.
I made this first thing in the morning and I will cook tonight for dinner.
It is even better if you prepare the night before and let all the flavors mix and meld.
After this very important fridge time, take it out and bake at 350 degrees
for about 45 minutes.

Finished product.
Daddio liked it.
I like the original recipe better with ricotta.
But I'm thinking, if you mixed them together like I've
done with lasagna?
Now that would be tasty.
Also, I forgot the herbs.
That was probably the reason I wasn't hopping up and down about it.
But I have included them for you.
I will let you decide.
Don't get me wrong it was tasty.
I could have done better.
Hey, there's always another chance.


1/2 lb sausage and/or ground beef
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 15 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1 T. dried Italian herbs
6 oz (1/2 box) jumbo pasta shells
1 8 oz cream cheese
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Brown sausage/beef over medium high heat.  Remove meat from pan to drain on paper towel.  Add onion to pan and cook until soft.  Quarter artichokes and add to onions until color starts to appear.  Add bell pepper to saute and cook for 2 minutes.
Remove veggies from pan to a mixing bowl with browned meat. 

Cook pasta (with ample salt) according to directions, reducing cooking time by 4-5 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix meat, veggies, and herbs with cream cheese.  Grate Parmesan and mix with shredded mozzarella.

Spray 9x13 casserole pan with non-stick spray.  Pour some tomato juice from the tomatoes in bottom of pan to prevent over browning.

Stuff partially cooked/cooled shells with meat mixture and add to casserole pan.  Pour tomatoes over pasta.

Sprinkle with cheese mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Let me know how you liked it. 
Let me know if you added some other goodies or changed something up.
You know how I like to try new things. 
It's what I'm all about.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Chicklettes!

    I had this left-over for lunch today. I added the Italian spices and warmed it up in the oven. It was great! I wasn't too hot on it the first time, but those herbs really did the trick. Just wanted you to know. Hope you give it a try.
    Stay warm,