Are you a spicy pasta fan? Take your beef stuffed shells to the next level with jalapeño peppers, caramelized onions and horseradish.
Hearty pasta dishes are a classic comfort food that every cook should have in their rotation. While there are a few steps to follow in this recipe, it’s actually pretty easy to make and the end results are HUGE on flavor.
Other favorites include my Supreme Spaghetti Pizza Casserole, Buffalo Chicken Baked Pasta and this video on How To Upgrade Boxed Mac & Cheese.
STAND OUT INGREDIENTS FOR THESE BEEF STUFFED SHELLS:
Now I know what you’re thinking…. horseradish? With pasta? Stay with me, folks. I promise that this is a killer combo and you’re going to swoon at first bite. The ingredients in this recipe are all things you know and love, so don’t be scared. All you need is two pots, one pan and a large baking dish! Oh, and a couple forks for feasting.
Horseradish Tomato Cream Sauce: When I have time, I like to make my own pasta sauces. This one is a blend of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, garlic, horseradish, herbs and a splash of heavy cream.
Meat Mixture: I wanted to create two levels of heat in this recipe, so I sautéed the ground beef with chopped onions and jalapeños. I also deglazed the pan with white wine to add a little zip (optional).
Cheese Factor: Unlike other stuffed pasta recipes, I opted for fresh mozzarella in leu of ricotta. Could you use ricotta in this recipe? Sure, if that’s what floats your boat I’m all aboard.
Lemon Gremolata: While this layer isn’t mandatory, I highly recommend it. This is a very hearty, savory dish… so the brightness of the gremolata takes things to the next level of deliciousness!
CAN YOU FREEZE THIS RECIPE?
YOU BETCHA! This meal can be made ahead of time and either refrigerated overnight or placed in the freezer for later. Prepare the shells, pasta sauce and meat as directed. Allow the filling to cool inside the shells, add the fresh mozzarella and then tightly cover with plastic wrap and foil. Basically, you’ll prepare this dish halfway through step 5, skip the sprinkle of cheese on top and do not bake it.
TO COOK FROM FROZEN: Remove the baking dish from the freezer the night before and place it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to bake, add a sprinkle of shredded cheese and bake, covered, for 20 minutes and uncovered for 10 minutes to ensure yummy cheese browning.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVERS:
Place any leftovers in a sealable container, refrigerated, and enjoy within 3 days. To reheat, simply microwave the desired amount of shells for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can place them in a baking dish and pop them into a 350F oven for 10 minutes or so.
RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH:
If you’re serving a crowd or have a super-hungry family to feed, we like pairing these shells with one of the following items.
- Air Fryer Garlic Cheddar Drop Biscuits
- Autumn Inspired Chicken Cobb Salad (VIDEO)
- Pepperoni Pizza Garlic Knots
- Baked Feta over Roasted Broccoli (VIDEO)
CLICK HERE FOR ALL RECIPES
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 cup Parsley Leaves, minced (about 1 bunch)
- Juice of ½ Lemon
- Salt + Pepper, to taste
- Red Pepper Flakes, optional
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 28 oz. San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes
- 1 tsp. Sugar (optional)
- 1 tbsp. Prepared Horseradish
- 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
- ¼ cup Reserved Pasta Water
- ¼ cup Half and Half
- Salt + Pepper, as desired
- ½ Large White Onion, chopped
- 2 Jalapeños, seeded and chopped
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- ¼ cup White Wine, to deglaze
- 1 lb. Ground Beef
- Salt + Pepper, as desired
- 24 Jumbo Pasta Shells
- 8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella, cut into 24 pieces
- 4 oz. Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
- Freshly Grated Parmesan, for serving
- MAKE THE LEMON GREMOLATA: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set in the refrigerator until you're ready to use.
- SIMMER THE TOMATO SAUCE: Sauté garlic in a stockpot over medium heat with olive oil until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pulse tomatoes with their juices in a blender until desired consistency and then add to the stockpot. Bring to a soft boil and then add the sugar (optional), horseradish, and Italian seasoning. Allow to simmer while you cook the pasta shells. Once the pasta shells are cooked, reserve some pasta water and add to the sauce, as desired. Turn off the heat, then swirl in the half and half. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- COOK THE PASTA SHELLS: Boil the pasta shells until al dente (about 9 minutes on packaged directions). Drain and set aside.
- SAUTE THE BEEF: Add the chopped onion, jalapeño and olive oil to a large skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine, if desired. Add ground beef and continue to cook until browned. Drain, if necessary.
- ASSEMBLE: Spread 1 cup of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Fill each shell with ground beef and top with a piece of fresh mozzarella. Snuggle them next to each other, opening side up. Pour desired amount of pasta sauce over the top and sprinkle with shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Cover with foil and bake in a 375F oven for 20 minutes. Uncover, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbling.
- TO SERVE: Allow shells to cool for 5 minutes and then sprinkle with your desired amount of Lemon Gremolata and a side of grated Parmesan. Enjoy!
NOTES ON BEEF STUFFED SHELLS:
- A 15 oz. Box of Jumbo Pasta shells contains about 46 individual shells. So, for this recipe you will only need about 1/2 a box. Save the other half for later. Cook them until al dente, or a little less. If you overcook them they will fall apart when trying to fill them with the meat and cheese.
- I like to cook the horseradish tomato sauce and the pasta simultaneously to save on time. Always reserve a little of the pasta water, as the starches will help marry the sauce to the pasta. Add as much of as little as you’d like, depending on your desired sauce consistency.
- If you don’t have time to make your own sauce, go ahead and use about 3 cups of jarred pasta sauce. I’d still add a touch of the pasta water to help it cling to the shells.
- This recipe is easy enough for weeknights AND fancy enough to serve on special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, date night). It’s the perfect Italian entree!
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