Thursday, October 2, 2014

Plain boxed Pasta to Magnificent Meal....

This is an exciting dish to me, because I made it solely by raiding the fridge and pantry, no extra trip to the store required.

The idea started out with ground beef and giant shell noodles.  Then the "what can I do with this" kicked in, and before long it invariably turned to "guess we're having Italian".
I like to pick up the one pound packs of lean ground pork at my market.  I first started to buy these to make my own breakfast sausage instead of having to grind my own pork. One pound of ground pork is about half the price of one pound of breakfast sausage, and all you have to do is add some spices!!  So I thought why not turn the ground pork into an Italian version, like Italian sausage.  So off on my journey I went.

Here's what you will need:
1 lb ground beef, I used chuck
1 lb ground pork, lean
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Granulated garlic
4 oz can Italian flavored tomato sauce, or just add a little Italian seasoning and basil to a can of plain tomato sauce
(2) 16 oz jars of Pomodori Bruschetta spread
32 oz of chunky marinara sauce
16 oz Mozzarella Cheese, grated
6 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
Red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Start off by browning the beef and pork with all your dry ingredients added.  Be sure to break up meats as they brown.  Once done, allow to cool.  Meanwhile, grate cheeses and cook pasta to very al dente stage, drain and place on parchment paper until you need them.  After meat has cooled spoon it into a med. size bowl, add 3/4 of your grated Mozzarella and all of the Parmesan cheeses.  Also add about 1/2 of the 4 oz. can of tomato sauce. Mix together well.

Spray the bottom and sides of a 13x11 baking dish and pour the remaining 1/2 can of tomato sauce into the bottom of your dish and spread around.  This will help to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom.

Begin stuffing your shells with the meat and cheese mixture.  (Some of my pasta fell apart while boiling, but I found I did not need them all anyway).  Place your stuffed shells in your prepared baking dish, if you have any meat left, just sprinkle it on top of the stuffed shells.  Pour on your sauce (Bruschetta Spread or chunky marinara sauce) and top with remaining Mozzarella cheese.  Add Red Pepper flakes if desired.

Bake in a 400° oven for about 40-55 min.  My baking dish was a thick ceramic type dish, so baking took a little longer than is would in a pyrex dish.  Bake until nice and bubbly.

My house smelled like a real Italian restaurant and I even got a "that was really delicious" from my husband.  So simple, yet so yummy, truly a win, win for me.  Serve with some fresh homemade Italian bread or Foccacia loaf.  Below are two links to some homemade bread recipes using a Bread Machine.