Northern Italian Stuffed Shells is a superb pasta entree. We LOVED this divine Paula Deen recipe. Jumbo shells are stuffed with a mixture of ground round, spinach, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs and onions then baked in your favorite spaghetti sauce. A little parmesan sprinkled over top of individual servings is all you need to be completely satisfied with this amazing Italian pasta dish. Northern Italian Stuffed Shells are fantastic and this recipe makes enough to freeze another dish for later.
Years ago we had some visitors to our Sunday school class bring this to a Progressive Dinner we were having. As it happened, we hosted the main dish meal in our home that night, and this was one of three or four main dishes provided.
One bite was all it took to beg the gal who brought this delicious dish to give me the recipe. She told me she had gotten it online somewhere. It wasn’t until I got ready to post this recipe that I found out Northern Italian Stuffed Shells was provided on a Paula Deen TV show. Paula received the recipe courtesy of Barbara Plutoni.
There are a couple of things I recommend in the directions of this recipe to make it easier to assemble. First, I would cream the cream cheese with an electric mixer. Then add the eggs and spinach and mix with an electric mixer again until well combined. Then I would stir the ground round, parmesan cheese, onions, salt and pepper.
The directions are a little difficult to combine as written. The recipe itself, and taste is superb–especially if you substitute your favorite spaghetti sauce or homemade spaghetti sauce for the tomato sauce in the recipe. If you prefer, you can use ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef.
Also make sure you don’t overcook the shells. If you overcook the shells they will start breaking apart. Cook them 3-4 minutes less than the highest amount given on the back of the box. When I purchase shells or manicotti I shake the boxes slightly to listen for pieces rattling around in the box which is an indication that many of the shells are broken. I usually cook two boxes instead of one to allow for broken shells–and although I thought I stuffed the shells pretty full I still had enough for two full baking pans–two to three layers each!
If you’re looking for a scrumptious stuffed shell recipe, Northern Italian Stuffed Shells is truly spectacular. This recipe is enough to make two large casseroles. I sent one to some friends and kept one for us. You can also use one as a freezer meal. While assembly does require some work, the payoff is excellent. If you make it, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Northern Italian Stuffed Shells are amazing.
These shells are stuffed with two cheeses, spinach, ground round, and onions. They are absolutely delicious.
Garnish with a little parmesan cheese and parsley. I served my shells with Red River Cereal Bread.
Here’s what I did.
Brown three pounds of ground round. I actually used ground sirloin.
Thaw spinach under running warm/hot water. Squeeze out as much liquid as you possibly can.
Drain beef and toss into a large mixing bowl.
I added the softened cream cheese but it was really hard to mix this way. I recommend creaming the cream cheese with a mixer first. Then add the spinach and eggs and cream again. Stir in the ground beef and other stuffing ingredients last.
Saute onions in some of the liquid leftover from draining the ground beef.
Add onions, salt and pepper.
Add parmesan cheese and eggs.
Mix stuffing ingredients together until well mixed.
Boil shells to al dente. Pull them out about 4 minutes before they’re finished.
Place shells very gently on waxed paper to drain and cool for easier handling.
Stuff shells. Layer in baking dish.
Pour your favorite spaghetti sauce over top of the shells.
Layer another layer of stuffed shells over top of the other ones.
Add another layer of spaghetti sauce.
This pan was really deep so I added a third layer of stuffed shells. The other pan only took two layers.
Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over top.
Cover with foil and bake about 1 hour at 350.
Sprinkle lightly with additional parmesan cheese before serving, if desired.
To serve: sprinkle with more parmesan cheese and freshly torn parsley.
Here’s the recipe.
NORTHERN ITALIAN STUFFED SHELLS
(Recipe adapted from Cynthia McCauley when they visited Hillcrest Baptist Church, Cedar Hill, TX; source: adapted from Paula Deen.)
- 3 packages frozen, chopped spinach
- 3 pounds ground round
- 2 (8-ounce) packages Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 8-oz. package Sargentos shredded Parmesan cheese (not the stuff in a can)
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 2 jumbo eggs
- 2 (1-pound) package Barilla jumbo pasta shells
- 1 45-oz. and 1 32-oz. jar Francesco Rinaldi Spaghetti sauce
- parmesan cheese and parsley for garnish
- Place frozen spinach in a strainer and run under hot water until thawed.
- Squeeze all of the water out and place in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a large sauté pan, cook the ground round until browned.
- Drain meat, reserving the fat in the pan, and set meat aside.
- Cream the cream cheese with an electric mixer until blended.
- Add eggs, salt, pepper and spinach to the mixer and blend again to distribute the spinach evenly.
- Add meat to the spinach mixture.
- Sauté the chopped onions in the reserved meat fat until tender–about 5 minutes.
- Transfer onions to the bowl with the other ingredient.
- Add grated cheese and stir ingredients to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚.
- Cook pasta shells in boiling, salted water until al denté—about 10 minutes. Do not overcook or the shells will break up.
- Drain the shells and place on waxed paper to cool.
- Stuff the shells with the beef/spinach mixture.
- Spray two 9×13″ glass baking dishes with olive oil cooking spray.
- Layer shells in pans. Cover with spaghetti sauce. Layer remaining shells over top of the sauce. Cover shells again with remaining spaghetti sauce. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 1 hour.
- Garnish shells with more parmesan cheese and fresh, torn parsley if desired.[br]
- [b]NOTE FROM CYNTHIA:[/b] I make 2 boxes (1 pound) jumbo pasta shells. Some break when you boil them. Coat shells with lots of sauce so the shells don’t get burnt or dry out.
Northern Italian Stuffed Shells are mouthwatering. Don’t these shells look marvelous?
We loved every forkful of these Northern Italian Stuffed Shells.
This recipe makes two 9×13″ baking pans. Freeze one for later!