Monday, March 2, 2009

Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

As I was getting ready to post this recipe this morning, I realized that I didn't even know the official name for these shells, I just always have called them "shells". So I looked up the info on google, and then got side tracked, and now I'm posting in the afternoon! I found out that these shells are called "Conchiglie Shells", which is Italian for Conch Shells, which makes sense, because they really do look like conch shells. On the pasta box they are called Jumbo Shells, so there is the reason I have always called them "Cheese Stuffed Shells"! I have been making these for many years and I think I adapted this recipe from one on a box of shells. Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce is one of my family's favorite dishes. If desired, you may use a meatless sauce, which in my opinion, is very good and contains less calories. But the carnivores in my family prefer the meat sauce. If you are really pressed for time you may use a jar of your favorite purchased sauce. I'm going to post the recipe for the meat sauce separately, tonight or tomorrow, so that it will be easier to refer to in other posts. So, let's get started;You will need 1/2 -1 box of Jumbo Shells. I don't fill the shells too full because as they bake and the cheese melts, it oozes out of the shell. I like the cheese to stay in the shells! So I cook about 28 shells for 1 9x 13 pan. Some of the shells always fall apart during cooking, so I cook more than needed. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add in however many shells you want to use. Stir with a wooden spoon so you don't tear the shells. Cook for the least amount of time listed on the box. When shells are done, pour into a colander and drain. When ready to stuff them rinse with cold water if needed, to separate the shells, so they won't tear.. In a bowl mix the cheese ingredients together; 15 oz. ricotta, 2 cup Mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 2-3 Tbs. chopped parsley and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
In a 9x13 non reactive pan, pour about 2 cups of meat sauce and spread it out. To fill the shells, take one in your hand and gently add about 1 Tbs. of cheese mixture. Lay it over the sauce and repeat with remainder of shells. I fit them rather closely together.

After all the shells are filled and in the pan, I drizzle 1 cup of sauce over the pasta. Then I top the dish with just a light sprinkling of Parmesan or Mozzarella, just to decorate it a little. Don't use much. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until bubbly and the cheese is melted.. If desired you can cover with foil for the first 15 minutes. Also, if you stuff the shells really full, they may take longer to bake. When done, remove pan from oven and enjoy!

Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook for the least amount of time listed on your box's directions. Pasta will cook more after it is stuffed. Drain cooked shells in a colander in the sink. Cool until you can handle.
In a bowl mix together;
15 ounces Ricotta cheese ( I use low fat)
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated melts better, or the one in the tub)
2-3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp.pepper ( You won't need salt as the cheese is saltly)
In a non reactive 9x13 baking pan, pour in about 2 cups of meat sauce and spread evenly.
When ready to stuff the shells, take 1 shell and fill with about 1 tbs. of cheese filling.( If shells are hard to separate, rinse with cold water and loosen with fingers.) Place each shell into the pan over the meat sauce. When the pan is filled, spoon an additional 1 cup sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle a little cheese over the top just to decorate! Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is just bubbling. I serve with salad and garlic bread. What's your favorite pasta shape?

UPDATE: The recipe for the Meat Sauce for Pasta (spaghetti sauce) is here.


  1. Have not made these in a while, but I truly love them. I usually add spinach (frozen, thawed, sqeezed dry) to mine, with some freshly grated nutmeg. Delicioso. With meat sauce, please.

  2. I love stuffed shells - yours look delicious.

  3. Stuffed shells are one of my favorite pasta dishes - yours look perfect!

  4. I love stuffed shells too (and have always just called that pasta shells as well). Those look fantastic!


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