When it comes to hearty and satisfying meals, few dishes can compare to Pasta Shells with Ground Beef. This classic Italian-American favorite combines the savory goodness of ground beef with tender pasta shells and a rich, flavorful sauce. If you’re ready to create a meal that will leave your family and guests craving for more, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into the details of crafting the perfect Pasta Shells with Ground Beef.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
For the Pasta:
- 1 pound (450g) of pasta shells
- Olive oil
For the Ground Beef Sauce:
- 1 pound (450g) of ground beef
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can (28 ounces) of crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of dried basil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes (optional for a spicy kick)
For the Cheese Layer:
- 1 cup (240g) of ricotta cheese
- 1 cup (240g) of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup (120g) of grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Making Pasta Shells with Ground Beef:
Preparing the Pasta:
- Start by boiling a large pot of water. Add salt and a dash of olive oil to the boiling water. The oil will prevent the pasta shells from sticking together.
- Cook the pasta shells according to the package instructions until they are al dente. Drain and set them aside.
Creating the Ground Beef Sauce:
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté until they become translucent and fragrant.
- Add the ground beef and cook until it’s browned and no longer pink. Break the beef into smaller pieces with a spatula as it cooks.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if you prefer a little heat). Simmer the sauce for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.
Assembling the Dish:
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a large baking dish, spread a thin layer of the ground beef sauce.
- Fill each cooked pasta shell with a spoonful of ricotta cheese and place them in the baking dish.
- Pour the remaining ground beef sauce over the stuffed pasta shells.
- Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the top, creating a mouthwatering layer of cheese.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves for a burst of flavor and a touch of elegance.
With this detailed recipe, you’re well on your way to creating a Pasta Shells with Ground Beef dish that will outshine any other. The combination of perfectly cooked pasta, savory ground beef sauce, and a three-cheese layer is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Whether it’s a family dinner or a gathering with friends, this meal is a winner. Enjoy every bite and savor the satisfaction of a homemade classic!