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Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce

Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce. Imagine tender pasta shells, a rich meat sauce, creamy mozzarella, and fragrant pesto all baked to bubbly perfection. This dish is the epitome of comfort food, combining familiar flavors with a touch of gourmet flair. Whether it’s a weeknight meal or a special occasion, this recipe is sure to warm hearts and fill bellies with its delicious layers of goodness.

Experience the ultimate comfort with our Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce. This dish features pasta shells generously filled with a flavorful meat sauce, layered with creamy mozzarella and vibrant pesto. Baked until golden and bubbly, it’s a hearty, satisfying meal that’s perfect for any night of the week. Easy to prepare and absolutely delicious, this dish is a family favorite in the making.

The first time I made this Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce, it was a chilly evening and we were craving something hearty and comforting. The kitchen quickly filled with the inviting aroma of simmering meat sauce and fresh pesto, creating an atmosphere of warmth and anticipation. As I pulled the bubbling casserole out of the oven, the sight of golden, melted cheese was irresistible. We gathered around the table, and with the first bite, everyone was hooked. This dish has since become a beloved part of our family dinners, always bringing smiles and full bellies.

Why These Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Meat Sauce?

Flavorful Layers: The combination of rich meat sauce, creamy mozzarella, and vibrant pesto creates a symphony of flavors in every bite.
Comfort Food at Its Best: This dish is the ultimate in cozy, satisfying meals, perfect for cold nights and family gatherings.
Easy to Make: Simple ingredients and straightforward steps make this dish a breeze to prepare, even on busy weeknights.


1 lb (450g) pasta shells
1 lb (450g) ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup (120ml) red wine (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup (240ml) pesto
2 cups (200g) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (50g) grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, chopped (for garnish)

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Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).

Cook the Pasta: Cook the pasta shells according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Make the Meat Sauce: In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned. Remove the beef and set aside. In the same skillet, add the chopped onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1 minute.

Combine Ingredients for the Sauce: Return the beef to the skillet. Add the crushed tomatoes, red wine (if using), dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

Assemble the Dish: In a large baking dish, spread a layer of the meat sauce. Fill each pasta shell with a spoonful of pesto and place in the dish. Once all the shells are filled, pour the remaining meat sauce over the top.

Add Cheese and Bake: Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.

Bake the Shells: Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Garnish and Serve: Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh basil before serving.

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 40 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour

Kcal: 600 kcal | Servings: 6 servings

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