On my last trip to Stringtown, I stocked up on bulk flours, pasta and spices. One of the things I bought was large pasta shells that are great for stuffing with your favorite fillings. I usually tend to go Italian when I make pasta, but this time I decided to shake things up a bit and go with a Mexican-flavored dish. I found this recipe on The Way to His Heart, and this recipe is a keeper.
It’s super easy to do, and you can prepare everything ahead of time and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake it for dinner. My sons will eat anything that has pasta or anything Mexican inspired, so this dish was a win-win at dinnertime.
Mexican Stuffed Shells
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning (I use Wildtree’s taco seasoning as it has no preservatives)
4 ounces cream cheese
18 jumbo-sized pasta shells
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 cup taco sauce
2 cups Mexican-flavored shredded cheese (usually a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses)
Toppings: green onions, olives, sour cream, shredded lettuce (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain any fat. Add the taco seasoning according to package directions. Add the cream cheese to the skillet, and cook until the cheese is completely melted and blended well into the meat. Add half of the jar of salsa to the meat and cheese mixture, stirring to completely combine. Set aside and let cool completely.
While the beef is browning, cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Drain. When cool enough to handle, you’re ready to assemble the dish.
Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the other half of the salsa in the bottom of the baking dish. Fill pasta shells with the cooled meat mixture, and place in the baking dish open side up. Cover the shells with the taco sauce. Cover the baking dish with foil, and bake shells covered for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, uncover the baking dish, and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the tops of the shells. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes without the foil, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve with toppings of your choice (black olives, green onions, sour cream, lettuce and additional salsa or taco sauce).