Baked Ground Beef, Spinach and Cheese-Stuffed Shells

Although this recipe may seem a bit fussy, it has a two-pan plan: it makes two pans, so you can freeze one for a future meal. Since stuffed shells are showier and easier to serve than lasagna, this recipe is perfect for potluck and buffet-style dinners.
Yield 10 Servings Prep. Time 20 min Cooking Time 55 min Total Time 75 min

Ingredients

Here are the following ingredients:

  • 1 box (340 g) jumbo pasta shells (about 44 shells)
  • 1 lb (500 g) Lean Ground Beef Chuck
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 tub (454 g) light ricotta cheese
  • 1 pkg (300 g) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1½ cups (375 mL) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) pepper
  • 4 cups (1 L) pasta sauce
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan cheese (approx)

Shopping List

Here are the following shopping items to buy:

Method

Follow these cooking methods/directions:

  1. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and rinse; set aside. (Don’t worry if some shells tear as you won’t need them all.)

  2. Meanwhile, cook beef, onion, garlic to your taste, and Italian seasoning over medium heat in large deep skillet, stirring and breaking up beef with a spoon, for 10 minutes or until beef is completely cooked and any liquid has evaporated or drain. Remove from heat.

  3. Stir in ricotta, spinach, 1 cup (250 mL) of the mozzarella and pepper; combine well. Spoon 2 tbsp (30 mL) into each of about 32 shells.

  4. Spread 1⅓ cups (325 mL) pasta sauce into each of a 13 x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish and 9-inch (23 cm) glass pie plate. Place 20 filled shells in baking dish, and about 12 in pie plate. Top shells in baking dish with remaining pasta sauce (none needed for pie plate). Sprinkle Parmesan and remaining mozzarella over shells in both dishes. (Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen.)

  5. Cover loosely with foil and bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for about 30 minutes (40 minutes if refrigerated; about 1½ hours if baking from frozen) or until hot and bubbling. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes. Serve garnished with more Parmesan cheese, if desired.