While we may not be Italian, my family sure loves Italian food. With luscious cheeses, fun pasta shapes, tasty meats and fragrant herbs, it’s not hard to get why Italian is a definite favorite around our dinner able. This pasta dish is a mashup of all of our Italian favorites, with double the pasta, double the sauce and double the cheese! Yes really, I took cheesy pasta, stuffed it into jumbo pasta shells and threw in some pesto, hearty tomato sauce and more cheese for good measure. Sounds incredible right? It is!
To begin, gather your ingredients. Loads of basil pesto, pasta, spicy Italian sausage, Muir Glen Tomato Basil pasta sauce and lots and lots of cheese, among other things—see exact ingredient list below. Sounds pretty good don’t you think?
Add the mini meatballs ingredients to a bowl and mix them together.
Roll the meat mixture into tiny meatballs. About ½ to 1 teaspoon is all you’ll need! Bake the meatballs on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, or until meatballs are no longer pink in the middle.
Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Cook jumbo pasta shells to al dente. Using slotted spoon, remove pasta from water; set aside. To the boiling water, add the mini pasta shells; cook to al dente. Next, let’s prepare the cheese sauce.
When the cheese sauce has thickened, add the cooked mini pasta shells; then gently add the meatballs.
Spread half the jar of pasta sauce and half the pesto evenly around the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Now comes the fun part, stuffing the mini shells into the jumbo ones! Using a spoon, fill each jumbo pasta shell with cheesy mini shells, placing each shell in bottom of baking dish as you go.
Once you have made one layer of shells, pour remaining pasta sauce and pesto over shells.
Continue to fill remaining jumbo shells with cheesy pasta, setting them right on top of the first layer of jumbo shells. Place the jumbo shells in an even layer right on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top.
Bake until the cheese is bubbling and melted, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Carefully remove from the oven and cool slightly.
Plate, serve with fresh basil and enjoy!