Stuffed Pasta Shells

I made these stuffed pasta shells for dinner on Friday night. They were scrumptious. If you have about an hour, then putting these together is worth it. Thank goodness Thing 2 was enjoying watching me get my hands dirty while stuffing the shells and Thing 3 was happy to sit and play in his Bumbo.

What I did differently from the recipe Stuffed Pasta Shells:

1.) I used Sea Shell pasta. Directions weren’t clear on what to use so I chose those.

2.) I used Italian bread crumbs
3.) I added spinach. Because my family won’t eat healthy if they see it. I chopped it up in the food processor. Then I threw it in with the beef for about a minute to cook on the stove. 

They never knew the difference. I later asked my husband if he could taste it, he said no. 

4.) I added the Parmesan cheese into the mix of ingredients to stuff into the pasta- not on top of sauce. 

You WILL NEED the 2 jars of sauce. The sauce itself can make or break this recipe. The directions don’t give you guidance on what sauce to use. I chose an Italian spaghetti sauce for the bottom of my crock pot and a plain spaghetti sauce to go on top of the stuffed pasta. I doctored my plain sauce with salt and Oregano. When I make it next time, I will make a huge pot of my own spaghetti sauce. We don’t like sweet sauce which is why for me, if the sauce doesn’t taste right, then the whole meal is ruined.

If your noodles are too hot to handle with your hands, run them under cool water.

Stuff them.
At one point I was overwhelmed by the amount of shells I had to fill. I actually made a whole bag of pasta shells because even though it said 18 jumbo pasta shells, I didn’t know if it would be 18 of MY jumbo pasta shells. The person who wrote this recipe didn’t really give direction on what type of pasta she was using. If you are going to use the Sea Shell pasta like I did, make half the bag. I just kept filling the pasta until I ran out of filling. Some of your pasta will break which is why you will need to make at least half the bag. 

One last tip. I had everything in the crock pot cooking away by 11AM. My husband, who was out of town, didn’t come home to eat with us until 6:30PM. I had turned the crock pot (which was at a low setting) off at 4:00PM. By the time we ate supper, the shells were soggy. If you are going to be late in eating them, don’t cook the pasta all the way through before stuffing them. If this is something you are going to make before you go to work in the morning, let your pasta be a little undercooked. I think if we had eaten them at 4:00PM instead of 6:30PM, they would have been perfect! 

This recipe was fun to make because I have never made stuffed pasta before- however, I am SO lucky that the kids cooperated with me that morning- otherwise this would be one of those only make during nap time type of recipes!