Beefy Tomato-Stuffed Shells

This is a fabulous dish to serve at a special occasion. I have to tell you that it does take a little more time, but it is totally worth it. I know it seems like all my family does is carbo load from the pasta recipes I am posting; but remember, we are supposed to treat ourselves every so often, aren’t we? This recipe will serve 8 modest people. If you have a group of men eating this, it might serve 4. Females typically eat just two shells – they are the jumbo shells after all…Try to stick with the fresh herbs if you can. The fresh ones really take this recipe over the top.

Beefy Tomato-stuffed shellsIMG_1420

24 jumbo pasta shells, uncooked

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup minced onion

1/2 t pepper

1/4 t garlic powder

1/4 t dried crushed red pepper

1 1/4 cups beef broth

1 (7 ounce) jar dried tomatoes in oil, drained

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

2 T chopped fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 (32-ounce) jar spaghetti

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)

1 to 2 T chopped fresh parsley

Cook shells according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet, stirring until meat browns and crumbles; drain. Add pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper. Cover and set aside.

Combine beef broth and next 5 ingredients in container of electric blender; cover and process until well blended. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, and process until combined.

Stir tomato mixture into ground beef mixture.

Spoon 1 heaping tablespoonful of ground beef mixture into each shell. Arrange shells in a lightly greased 13x9x2 baking dish or oven proof serving dish. Pour spaghetti sauce over top.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until heated through (if you are covering with foil, spray the foil with non stick cooking spray before covering dish).  Uncover; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, and bake 5 additional minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Photo and recipe adapted from Southern Living Cookbook Classics