Now, I am going to say this is not your grandmother’s sauce that simmers all day on Sunday for family dinner. This is a simple sauce that you can make during the week if you have a bit of extra time. You can let it simmer longer if you like because the flavors will meld more and the sauce will thicken but if you don’t have the time a good 20 minute simmer will be just fine.
I made this the other night because I had a package of Italian Sausage that my daughter pulled out of the freezer so I decided to make a meat sauce. You can add meat (Italian Sausage or Ground Beef) or have it plain.
This week is about the simple. Shells and sauce is simple? In a way, yes. Take a good half hour to make the meal – the sauce, the shells, and then it goes in the oven. Wash the dishes while it is in the oven or play a game with the kids or make lunches for tomorrow. It really can be “simple.”
This was the super creamy and yummy comfort food meal we all needed. Snow on the ground and half way through our school vacation we all wanted comfort food and this was perfect.
I served this with green beans and a green side salad to complete the meal.
Tip: This recipe made enough for a 13 x 9 pan and an 8×8 pan. So plan on having leftovers for lunch or cut back on the amount of pasta you make. My shells were about 3″ in length so they were fairly large.
- 1 large onion, rough chop
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. meat (ground beef or Italian sausage – casing removed)
- 2 (28 oz) cans tomatoes – diced, sauce, or crushed
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- fresh basil – cut into small pieces
- salt and black pepper
Stuffed Cheese Shells:
- 1 (12 oz) container of jumbo shells
- 1 (30 oz) ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoon powdered garlic
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon black pepper
- Begin pasta sauce by placing a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions to pan. Cook onions to softened about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic to pan and heat for about 1-2 minutes until well fragrant. Add meat if desired and cook through. Remove any extra grease from the pan.
- Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan and stir well. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes until flavors have blended together.
- While the sauce is simmering put your shells on to boil according to package directions. Drain and separate them so you can stuff them.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Make shell filling by mixing all ingredients until well blended in a bowl. When shells have cooled enough to handle stuff each with a heaping tablespoon or two of filling. You want them a bit overfilled.
- Place filled shells in a 13 x 9 casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
- Drizzle a cup or so of sauce over the shells. You want the shells to have a bit of sauce around them to not dry out as they bake.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the shells in the center are hot in the center.
- Remove pan from oven and serve with extra sauce drizzled over the top if desired.