1 lb ground lean ground beef
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon dried basil or 1 teaspoon fresh
16 oz cottage cheese
8 oz fresh mozzarella pearls
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 recipe tomato gravy, divided
1 box of pasta shells
Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and pour out onto a foil lined baking sheet, to keep the shells from sticking to each other. Set aside and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until well-carmelized, being careful not to burn the beef. Add onion and garlic to ground beef, and continue to cook until softened and fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool. After beef mixture is slightly warm, add cottage cheese, drained mozzarella pearls, and parmesan cheese. Add 1 cup cooled tomato gravy. Stir in fresh parsley and basil, if using.* **If using dried basil, add to pan with onion and garlic.
Ladle 2 cups of tomato gravy to 13 x 9 pan and 1 cup into 8×8 pan. Stuff pasta shells with meat mixture, and place in 13 x 9 pan. Repeat until pans are full. Ladle tomato gravy over stuffed shells and cover both pans with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, remove foil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and return to oven for 5 additional minutes. Serve with extra parmesan cheese, if desired.
*If using dried basil, add to pan with onion and garlic.
**I fit 21 stuffed shells into the 13×9 pan, and 12 stuffed shells into the 8×8 pan.
***There was extra stuffing, so I used it as pizza topping the next day.
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