When Gene and I were stationed overseas, I wasn’t doing a whole lot of cooking then. We were both in our 20’s and we were both working hard and playing hard. There were a few meals that were on the standard rotation. And when I had time to really whip up something yummy, this was one of the recipes I would break out. Pasta meals are so forgiving. It’s hard to mess them up (although, I’m sure a few of us could tell a few stories!), and you can be pretty creative with the added ingredients. And the funny thing is, my husband is not a fan of pasta – at all. Whenever Alex and I want spaghetti, Gene will always ask me nicely if I’ll make a burger for him. Or if I make pasta salad, he’ll run for the hills or make himself some fried baloney sandwiches. But he does enjoy lasagna, ravioli and these stuffed shells. Weird, huh? Maybe it’s all that added cheese in there…
1 package of jumbo pasta shells (you’ll need at least 24 jumbo shells)
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, finely diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (12 oz.) tomato paste
2 cups hot water
3 beef bouillon cubes
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 container (16 oz) small curd cottage cheese
1 package (8 oz) mozzarella cheese, divided use
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
dried parsley (optional)
Prepare jumbo shells per package directions. Drain thoroughly. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Cook beef, onion and garlic in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook until beef is brown and crumbled. Drain excess grease.
Stir in water, tomato paste, beef bouillon cubes and oregano. Stir and allow to simmer while preparing the shells.
In a medium bowl, stir together cottage cheese, one cup mozzarella, parmesan cheese and egg.
I sprinkle a little dried parsley in this for color but it is optional.
Now begin stuffing your cooked shells. About a tablespoon of the cheese mixture will fit into each one. You should be able to fit about 24 into your 9×13 baking dish. You may have to put some in there horizontally.
Pour sauce mixture on top of shells.
Cover with aluminum foil
Bake for about 40-45. Uncover and sprinkle remaining cup of mozzarella cheese over the top. Bake for an additional 5-8 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve with garlic bread and your favorite salad!
Cook’s Notes: Instead of tomato paste and hot water, you can use your favorite spaghetti sauce.