Stuffed Shells – Dinner for Two

This is a simple dinner, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Despite the cheese, it actually isn’t as decadent as it might sound. As with many meals such as this, leftovers can be even better than it was on the first night. We cheated a little on making our tomato sauce, but you could certainly make the entire thing from scratch. Garlic bread can be an excellent accompaniment to this rich and creamy meal.  The nice thing about this meal is that it can be adjusted for a large family or gathering as easily as it was to adjust it for just the two of us.  We’ve provided the recipe for our full batch of tomato and meat sauce, but it too could be scaled down if you wanted just enough for the shells.  We just prefer to make enough to freeze for spaghetti with meat sauce or other recipes later.  It isn’t always easy to find meals that work for a couple or an individual, so these gems are perfect go-to meals when you don’t need to cook for a large group.

Stuffed Shells with Garlic Bread
Stuffed Shells with Garlic Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Lean Ground Beef (or ground meat of your choice)
  • 24 oz Jar of Spaghetti Sauce (whatever brand you prefer)
  • 2 – 15 oz Cans of Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 – 15 oz Cans of Tomato Sauce
  • 3 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 2 1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 14 Large Shells – cooked to package directions
  • 1 and 1/3 cups Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese – shredded
  • 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese – finely shredded
  • 1 Large Egg – beaten
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Stuffed Shells with Tomato and Meat Sauce
Stuffed Shells with Tomato and Meat Sauce

Instructions

In a large saucepan, add the ground beef, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked.  Add to the saucepan the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and the granulated sugar.  Stir to combine ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1 to 3 hours (cooking the day before and letting sit will let the flavors intensify).  Cook the shells according to package directions, drain, and let cool to room temperature.  In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 2/3 of a cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and half of the beaten egg, and mix thoroughly.  Pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees.  Cover the bottom of a small baking dish with enough tomato and meat sauce to thoroughly cover the bottom of the dish.  Stuff each shell with about 3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture, enough to fill each shell without over filling them.  Place the shells into the baking dish on top of the sauce mixture.  Spoon more of the meat sauce over top of the shells and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (spray the bottom of the foil with some cooking spray so that the cheese doesn’t stick).  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and then remove the foil.  Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.  Plate and serve with garlic toast.

Tomato and Meat Sauce
Tomato and Meat Sauce
Cheese Mixture
Cheese Mixture
Stuffed Shells with Tomato and Meat Sauce
Stuffed Shells with Tomato and Meat Sauce

 

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