Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Taco-Stuffed Pasta Shells

I first got this recipe when my oldest child was a baby. Nestle sent me some baby things in the mail, and part of it was a few recipe cards for freezer meals. Somehow this recipe got out of my rotation, but I tried it again last night, and we loved it! The recipe says it serves 8, which is split into two 4-serving casseroles. If I do 20 shells total, split into two dinners, that will feed my family of 5 (2 adults & 3 little kids) pretty well.

Taco-Stuffed Pasta Shells
Printable version here

20 jumbo pasta shells (20 will fill a 9x13 baking dish)
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can (16 oz.) refried beans (or 2 cups homemade beans)
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 cups (12 oz. bottle) taco sauce or salsa, divided
1/4 cup sliced green onions
Light sour cream (optional)*

1. Prepare pasta shells according to package directions, then rinse & drain. (I always prepare a few extra in case some break while being filled.) After cooking, either toss with a little oil (to prevent sticking), or set out on a baking sheet, separated, while they wait to be filled.

2. Cook beef in large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Drain. Add beans, 3/4 cup cheese and chili powder; mix well.

3. Spread 1/4 cup taco sauce over bottom of each of two 8-inch square baking dishes (or 1/2 cup in a 9x13 pan). Fill pasta shells with beef mixture (about 3 tbsp. each, which equals one large cookie scoop). Place 8-10 shells in each baking dish, filled side up. Spoon remaining taco sauce over shells. Cover one baking dish with plastic wrap, then wrap with foil. Label and freeze for up to 2 months.

4. Cover remaining baking dish with foil. Bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve with green onions and sour cream.

To bake frozen shells: Place baking dish in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil & plastic wrap; recover with foil. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until heated through. Top the same way as above.

Tip for cooking the shells: To make it easier to test when the shells are done, I throw in a few of the broken shells (that are inevitably in the box). After cooking for the recommended time, I fish out one of these pieces and test it.

Why I love it? First, it's a great freezer meal. It's very low-fuss, just thaw and bake. I served it with salad & fruit, and it's a great complete meal. It tastes great, too. It's a nice change from regular tacos. I purposely used mild taco sauce to make it more kid-friendly.

*I have to mention, if you haven't tried this sour cream yet, I think this is the best kind ever!! It is so much creamier & yummier than regular sour cream.

(Original recipe from here)


  1. Oh. My. Goodness! Those look yummy!

  2. So, It's about time for me to comment on this recipe! We use it every 2 weeks or so at our house. It is easy, yummy, and reheats well for left overs the next day. I am so glad to have it in our 2 weekly rotation. I've even given it to friends when they have had new babies or a surgery. Thanks Michelle!