Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce

If you know me at all you know I am a sucker for any sort of baked pasta. So of course while searching for some more freezer meals, this one popped out at me immediately. All great flavors that Chuck really likes and it looked pretty easy.

The measurements were a little fussy so I changed them in order to make enough food to make two complete dinners. Both Chuck and I agreed that this needed a little more tomato taste, so when I make this again I may try adding an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. I am not going to write it into the actual recipe until I try it though - let me know if you attempt it that way! If you like the way pesto tastes, you can definitely increase that amount as well. There was a nice subtle flavor but definitely room for more!

Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce
amounts adapted from Food & Wine
Makes about 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package (usually about 1.25 pounds) ground beef
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup store-bought or homemade pesto
1 pound medium pasta shells
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat either a 15 x 10 baking dish or two 8 x 8 baking dishes with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Drain off any excess fat.

Add the tomatoes and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10-12 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in pesto.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente as directed on package, about 7-8 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce.

If using a 15 x 10 dish: Put half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with one cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining pasta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

If using two 8 x 8 dishes: Put 1/4 of the pasta mixture in each of the prepared dishes. Top each with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan. Repeat layers in each dish.

Bake until bubbling and slightly browned on top, about 15 minutes.


Melanie said...

That looks delicious. Just the kind of meal my family would DEVOUR!

Donna-FFW said...

I love one dish pasta meals as well. Looks lovely!

The Blonde Duck said...

I love baked pasta with meat sauce!

amycaseycooks said...

This is a go-to dish in my house. I try to always have something like this in my refrigerator for when uncontrollable hunger hits my family.

elly said...

Looks great! I love baked pastas too, especially nice and cheesy ones :)

Anonymous said...

YUM!! That looks sooo good!

Dewi said...

Baked pasta sounds so good Colleen.

Pam said...

You just can't go wrong with a dish like this!