Easiest Stuffed Shells
September 13, 2009, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes

I’m going to begin by telling a story I shouldn’t.  At least, not if I want to retain any semblence of pride and/or dignity, but I’m going to anyway. 

When I first met D.Jones, I knew how to cook a little.  Okay, mac & cheese was about the extent of it.  And frozen pizzas.  Oh, and veggie burgers.  The latter of which, I never wanted to actually dirty a pan for, so I made them in my toaster.  Gross with a capital G.  I’m surprised I never got food poisoning.

I’m sure all of the above was because my mom is an absolutely fantastic cook, who also enjoys feeding the masses, so if the longing for a home-cooked meal would strike, I needed only drive the short distance to my parent’s house, or make a call and food would miraculously appear at my doorstep.

I wanted D.Jones to think I knew what I was doing, though, so one day I decided I would make my mom’s stuffed shells recipe.  After numerous attempts and some major frustration, I ended up sitting on top of my kitchen counter crying into a cheap bottle of chardonnay, ready to throw in the towel.  I made a last phone call to my mom to try to pin point what was going so drastically wrong and she said something to the effect of “Kristin, this is a pretty easy recipe.  Did you get the mixture in to the shells?”  And I replied “No!!  That’s part of the problem!  They keep breaking!”  There was a pause from her end of the extension and then she said “Umm…you cooked them, right?”

Huh.  Never saw that part in the directions….

I am happy to say that I’ve sinced figured out that to stuff shells, one must cook the pasta first, so my skills have improved significantly, no?  In fact, I’m so adept at stuffing pasta shells, that I made up my own vegetarian version of my mom’s recipe.  It’s so easy that I think I could have mastered this one on the first try, even so many years ago….

Easiest Stuffed Shells

20-22 pasta shells, cooked and drained!

1 small glass jar of Pace Picante sauce

1 can of tomato sauce

1/2 T. olive oil

1 bag of Boca or Morningstar meat crumbles (or whatever brand you like.  For this recipe, I prefer the morningstar sausage crumbles)

1/2 med. onion, diced

1 small cannister of french fried onions

1/4 to 1/2 frozen bag of corn

1 bag of pre-shredded Mexican cheese (2 c. I think?)

1 ripe avocado, diced (optional)


In a skillet, heat the olive oil and the onion.  When the onion begins to soften, add the corn and heat through.  Then dump in the meatless crumbles. (of course, you could make this with hamburger or ground turkey if you prefer…just obviously cook it ahead of time and then re-add it at this point) Stir to combine and heat through.  Then, stir in a large handful of the french fried onions and a large handful of the shredded cheese and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix the picante sauce and the tomato sauce, stirring together.

Use a measuring cup to remove about a cup to a cup and 1/2 of the sauce and add it to the meat/corn/onion mixture.  Stir together until blended.

Scoop enough of the remaining sauce into a glass 9X13 baking dish to just cover the bottom with a small amount. 

Begin stuffing the cooked pasta shells with the meat/corn/onion mixture and then laying them in the bottom of the baking dish.  My 9X13 dish holds exactly 20 nicely stuffed shells, which should use all of your mixture.

Once they are all in the dish, ladle the remaining sauce all over the top and then cover with cheese, and then the remaining french fried onions.

Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for about 30 minutes.  Remove cover (I just use a sheet of tinfoil) and bake a few more minutes until the cheese is nicely browned and yummy looking.


I serve mine with the diced avocado on top, which is fantastic!  I love this dish because the leftovers are just as delicious as the first night you make it…



4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The only thing I’ve ever stuffed shells with is ricotta. LOL. This looks Deeeeee-licious, K. I have to try to make this.

Comment by Alicia

I love stuffed shells, and I love Morningstar sausage. I will have to try these!

Comment by leanerlou

this looks AMAZING! I am loving your blog and already linked to it from my blog so I can come back repeatedly to steal your recipes! Can’t wait to try this one!

Comment by Brandy

I just made this for dinner and my husband told me, “this was the most delicious dinner you’ve ever made.”


Comment by Brandy

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