Stuffed Shells are a recipe that while time consuming, always rewarding to eat. I love to make stuffed pastas on the weekends and freeze them to heat up later, or for within a few days when I know I'll be busy. Plus, they're PERFECT for new parents, an injured friend, new neighbors, etc.
I personally like meat in my stuffed pastas, but there are so many great stuffed shells recipes out there that cheese pastas would be fantastic as well for a make-ahead meal. You just can't go wrong with comfort food that's ready to go!
Beef, Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
1/2 a 12-ounce package of jumbo pasta shells
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 lb ground meat of choice (I had beef but turkey sausage would be awesome - the original recipe calls for sweet Italian sausage)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 large egg
1 15-oz. container Ricotta Cheese
5 oz. fresh spinach
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups favorite tomato or pasta sauce
1- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta shells according to the instructions on the package. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the meat to the pan, breaking up into smaller bits. Cook until cooked through, and no pink remains. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute more. Remove pan from heat.
Beat the egg lightly in a large bowl. Mix in the ricotta, chopped spinach, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, basil, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and meat mixture. Fill each cooked pasta shell with some of the ricotta, spinach, sausage mixture.
Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of each of a 9 x 13" baking dish. Arrange the stuffed pasta shells in the dish. Spread the remaining sauce over the top of the pasta shells. Top with desired amount of mozzarella cheese.
At this point you can make ahead, to freeze (up to four months) or refrigerate before cooking. (If freezing, do not top with mozzarella cheese but make sure to cover with foil, then wrap with plastic wrap.)
Heat oven to 375°F. Cover the pans with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese, bake uncovered for 10 more minutes.
Source: Adapted from Simply Recipes