A couple of weeks ago, the hubby and I went to visit our friends Steve and Sheri, who had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl. It was the first time we’d met little Ruby, and let me tell you, there are few things better than cuddling with a sleeping newborn.
Anytime I visit friends who’ve just had a baby, I always like to bring a gift for the little one, and a gift for the parents. And my gift for the parents is always food. Although I haven’t experienced it yet myself (although it will be happening in our house sooner than I can believe), I hear that having a newborn is quite exhausting, and when you haven’t slept in days and are covered in various baby projectiles, the last thing on your mind is making a nutritious meal for your family. So I like to bring a freezer meal for the new parents that takes some of the work out of dinnertime and will leave them with plenty of leftovers for the days following.
One of my favorite freezer meals is my lasagna, which is not only a breeze to make, but also freezes and reheats well, and supplies tons of leftovers. My master plan was to make two pans of lasagna; a freezer meal for Steve and Sheri, and one to stock away for us for a night when I didn’t necessarily feel like cooking dinner. However, my plans were foiled when I realized I only had enough lasagna noodles for one pan!
So what’s a girl to do when she’s fresh out of lasagna noodles, but is hell bent on making a pan of lasagna? Well, she gives up and puts all the extra ingredients back in the refrigerator (hey, I’m only human). Then when she finally gets around to pulling the ingredients back out a week later, she gets a little creative!
I had a box of large pasta shells wasting away in my pantry from when I had made one of my other stuffed shell recipes (either my chicken parmesan stuffed shells or my taco stuffed shells, I honestly can’t remember which), so I decided to combine the two dishes and came up with lasagna stuffed shells!
I gotta tell you guys, these stuffed shells were sooooo good. Although I could have baked them a little longer (I was starving for dinner and a little impatient. Don’t worry, I adjusted the times in the recipe below), I still gobbled up my portion in no time flat.
I normally don’t particularly like ricotta cheese in my lasagna (because I’m a weirdo and like to make it with cottage cheese), but it mixed together with the meat sauce and the shredded cheeses to make this big, lasagna-y mess that was just to die for. I don’t know about you guys, but I love it when lasagna is gooey and messy and doesn’t sit on the plate like this perfect little square piece of pasta. I like it a little sloppy!
Anyway, these lasagna stuffed shells are the bomb, and I wasn’t even sad that I didn’t get to make my beloved lasagna. This dish would also make an awesome freezer meal, so keep it in mind the next time you get the itch to prep meals ahead of time or are looking for a delicious dinner to bring to a friend in need.
Lasagna Stuffed Shells
Servings: 7 (4 shells per serving)
- 28 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 pound ground turkey (or ground beef)
- 4 cups (32 oz) marinara sauce
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook shells until just al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water (Note: I always cook more shells than I think I’m going to need, since a few inevitably break during the boiling process).
- While shells are boiling, brown ground turkey in a large saucepan. Drain fat and transfer ground turkey to a bowl. Add marinara sauce and mix well.
- Stuff shells- first with half a spoonful (about half a tablespoon) of ricotta, then a spoonful (about a tablespoon) of meat sauce (as you can see, I wasn’t super exact about this part). Place shells in prepared baking dish, with the opening up (Note: you should have some meat sauce leftover once all the shells are stuffed).
- Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese on top of the shells, followed by the remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle other half of the mozzarella on top of the sauce, then the parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until sauce is hot and cheese has melted.