Stuffed Shells with Beef, Cheese & Basil Pesto

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Stuffed Shells with Beef, Cheese & Basil Pesto

(serves 6)

As you all may know, I am all about the comfort food once the weather turns just the least bit chilly! This recipe was inspired from a time at the farmers market where I found the most incredible beef and garlic sausage that I used to make these shells. I only go to the farmers market once in a blue moon now that it’s so cold, so I made this recipe using regular ground beef and IMO, it’s just as good! This dish is perfect for a dinner party since it serves 6 people, but you can definitely cut down on the ingredients and make it for less. It reheats perfectly for leftovers and lasts in the fridge for 3-4 days!

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-          12 oz. box Jumbo Shells, cooked to package direction (I under cook them by 2-3 minutes since they will be in the oven for a while)

-          1 ½-2 lbs. ground beef, lean

-          15 oz. ricotta

-          1 cup shredded mozzarella

-          1 egg

-          1/3 c. basil pesto (jar, or homemade)

-          16 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced

-          1 jar Arrabiata pasta sauce (I love the spice of this, but you can use regular Marinara too)

-          2 cloves garlic, chopped

-          ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

-          1 tsp salt/pepper (combined)

-          Fresh basil, chopped


1.       Mix the ricotta, egg, half of the basil pesto, the garlic and the mozzarella in a bowl. Set aside.

2.       Cook the beef until no longer pink in a skillet, add your seasonings. Drain any fat. Add the meat to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine.

3.       Using a 9x13 casserole dish, ladle about a cup of pasta sauce on the bottom.

4.       Fill each shell with the meat/ricotta mixture and place in dish, side by side.

5.       Pour the remainder of the pasta sauce over the stuffed shells in the pan. If you have extra meat/ricotta mixture leftover, add that to the top of the shells.

6.       Top the shells with the sliced mozzarella.

7.       Sprinkle the other half of the basil pesto on the tops of the mozzarella slices.

8.       Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

9.       Top with fresh basil and serve!