Nana's Meat Stuffed Shells

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Nana's Meat Stuffed Shells

As an Italian there is always a "just in case" dish standing by for any gathering.  No matter if we are grilling burgers or preparing a gourmet dinner you will find a lasagna or stuffed shells as a back up dish.  Believe me it never goes to waste!  Especially later on in the evening everyone gets excited when I pull out a dish already made and it just needs to be heated up.

I love stuffed shells and my Nana and I would make these together and sometimes I would have for breakfast before school.  

Make my Simple Tomato Sauce for this recipe!

PS - I love using the meatloaf mix at the grocery store or ask your butcher for the pork, beef and veal combination.  YUM



  • Tomato Sauce (3 cups)
  • 1 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound meatloaf or meatball mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. Start your tomato sauce and let simmer on the stove.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add in a good amount of salt to the pot (about a tablespoon).  Add in shells and cook 3 minutes less than the box directions.  That will ensure they will be al dente and finish cooking perfectly in the oven after stuffed.  Drain and lay out on a baking sheet to cool.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  3. In a large bowl add in meat.  Take a fork and move around a little (just to open up the meat).  Make a well in the middle of the meat and add the egg then whisk.  Add in remaining ingredients.  Start by combining with a spoon then use your hands to incorporate the ingredients together without over mixing.

  4. Using a 8x13 baking pan ladle sauce in the bottom of the pan to cover completely.

  5. Fill each shell with the meat mixture and create a single layer in your baking dish.  Cover shells with sauce leaving some in the pan for serving.  

  6. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Let rest for about 5 minutes once you remove from oven then enjoy!

  7. A note from Cindy!  You will notice we don't cook the meat before stuffing.  Believe me this is so much better but you may have some oil on the top of the pan.  Just take a spoon and remove before serving! The meat is so tender and perfectly incorporated into the cheese.  You will love them!

    If you don't want to use meat you can use fresh or frozen spinach.  If using frozen be sure to thaw and squeeze really well to release all of the liquid by using a paper towel.  

  8. Cindy's Note:  Sorry about the photo.  I forgot to take a beautiful photo when I took it out of the oven.  This is the container for my leftovers!  

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