Pasta and Mini Meatball-Stuffed Pasta Shells

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Pasta and Mini Meatball-Stuffed Pasta Shells
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  • Prep 30 min
  • Total 60 min
  • Servings 8
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This truly "cheesy" recipe stuffs pasta and meatballs into even more pasta for a cozy family dinner.
By Tieghan Gerard
Updated Sep 2, 2014


  • 1 lb Italian sausage or ground beef
  • 2 slices white or wheat bread
  • 1 jar (8 oz) basil pesto
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 lb uncooked mini pasta shells
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 jar (25.5 oz) Muir Glen™ organic tomato basil pasta sauce
  • 1 cup shredded fontina or provolone cheese (4 oz)
  • Fresh basil leaves, as desired


  • 1
    Heat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet; set aside. Lightly grease 13x9-inch baking dish; set aside.
  • 2
    Add sausage to medium bowl. Lightly wet bread by placing it under water until just moistened, and then squeeze out excess water. Tear bread into tiny pieces, and add to bowl with sausage. Add 2 tablespoons of the pesto and the egg. Use your hands to mix together ingredients until combined.
  • 3
    Roll mixture into 1/2 to 1 teaspoon-size balls; place each on cookie sheet as you go. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until no longer pink in center. Remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, heat 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. Drain.
  • 5
    Add the Gruyère cheese, Cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, heavy cream and pepper to medium pot set over medium heat. Allow cheese to slowly melt into the cream until it has formed a smooth sauce, about 5 minutes.
  • 6
    Remove from heat, and stir in the mini pasta shells. Now gently stir in half of the mini meatballs.
  • 7
    Pour half of the pasta sauce into baking dish. Add half of the remaining pesto, and spread the sauce in an even layer in bottom of dish. Sprinkle remaining mini meatballs over top. Using spoon, fill each jumbo pasta shell with cheesy mini shells, placing each jumbo shell in bottom of baking dish as you go. Once you have 1 layer of shells, pour remaining pasta sauce over shells. Then pour remaining pesto over shells. Now continue to fill remaining jumbo shells with cheesy pasta, placing them right on top of the first layer of jumbo shells.
  • 8
    Once all the shells have been filled, sprinkle the remaining fontina cheese over top. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve with fresh basil.

Tips from the Betty Crocker Kitchens

  • tip 1
    This dish can be assembled fully ahead of time, cover and refrigerated, then baked just before dinner. Just leave the dish out on the counter while you heat the oven.
  • tip 2
    If you do not happen to have all the cheese on hand, feel free to use all mozzarella or whatever your favorite Italian cheeses are.
  • tip 3
    This can be baked, cooled and then frozen. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. To bake, thaw in the fridge over night, remove any plastic wrap, and bake as directed.


Nutrition Facts are not available for this recipe
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