Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

When I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to try it. I love pasta, especially stuffed cheesy pasta! It is a little labour intensive but totally worth the effort! 

Perfect for a Sunday night supper!

What you need,

For the meat sauce,

6 oz. lean ground beef
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3 cans diced tomatoes (14.5oz each)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

For the stuffed shells,

1 12oz box jumbo pasta shells
12 saltines, broken into pieces
2 ½ cups low fat cottage cheese, drain if too moist
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Start by making the pasta sauce. Pulse the beef and soy sauce together in a food processor until well combined, about 5 pulses. Transfer the meat to a small bowl. Add the cans of tomatoes to the food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, about 10 pulses.

Combine the oil and onion in a large sauté pan. Cover and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until soft, about 8-10mins. Stir in the beef mixture, breaking up the meat until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add in the tomato paste, garlic and pepper flakes, cook until fragrant about 1 minute. Stir in the processed tomatoes and salt and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the basil.

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a large pot of boiling water cook the shells according to package instructions. Once they are cooked, drain them and place them on a clean, dry dish cloth to cool off a bit. Toss any broken ones.

In a clean food processor pulse the saltines until finely ground. Add the cottage cheese, 1 ½ cups of the mozzarella, the Parmesan cheese the basil and the garlic, plus a ½ tsp. of salt. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
Transfer the mixture to a large zip top bag. Using scissors cut off 1 corner of the bag and pipe 2 tbsp. of filling into each shell.

Spread ½ the meat mixture on the bottom of a large baking dish. Arrange the filled shells on top. Then spoon the rest of the meat sauce over the stuffed shells. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until bubbling around the edges, about 35-40 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining mozza cheese over the top and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the cheese is melted.

Let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

This recipe was so good! My in house taste tester loved it!
The meat sauce was perfect, so much flavour! I just may make it my go to meat sauce from now on!


Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen “Light and Healthy 2012”


  1. I love stuffed shells. Once stuffed, you can freeze them before you bake them in ziploc freezer bags. Then when ready to make them, just add a little extra time to your baking time. I like to triple my recipe and freeze several extra batches. A wonderful thing to have in the freezer for the unexpected guests or a dinner to bring to a new mom, ill family or friend.

  2. Stuffed shells seem so fancy! Looks yummy!

  3. What a great idea Aimee, I am totally going to triple the batch next time and make extra to freeze! Thanks for the suggestion!!