Taco Stuffed Shells Recipe Article
Imagine the zesty flavors of a taco wrapped up in the comforting embrace of pasta. That's what you get with Taco Stuffed Shells – a delightful twist on Taco Tuesday that combines the best of two worlds: pasta and tacos. This dish is a feast for the eyes and the palate, featuring large shell pasta loaded with a savory taco filling, smothered in cheese and salsa, and baked to perfection. It's a dish that invites creativity, allowing you to add your personal touch to make it uniquely yours.
- 8 jumbo pasta shells
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
- ½ cup water
- ½ (16 ounce) can refried beans
- ⅓ cup shredded Cheddar cheese (for the filling)
- ½ (16 ounce) jar salsa, divided
- 2 tablespoons sliced green onion
- 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese (for topping)
- ¼ cup sour cream
Preheat the Oven: Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). This ensures your oven is at the right temperature when your shells are ready to bake.
Cook the Pasta: Boil a large pot of water over high heat. Add the shell pasta and cook until al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain well. Cooking the pasta just until slightly firm ensures that it won't become too soft when baked.
Prepare the Filling: Brown the ground beef in a large skillet and drain any excess fat. Mix in the taco seasoning and water, cooking over low heat until thickened, roughly 5 minutes. Then stir in the refried beans and ¾ cup of Cheddar cheese. This mixture will be the heart of your dish, bursting with taco flavors.
Assemble the Shells: Spoon the meat mixture into the cooked pasta shells. This can be a fun step to involve kids or guests, making the cooking process interactive.
Layer with Salsa: In a 9×13 inch baking dish, spread ¼ cup of salsa. Place the filled shells over this salsa layer, then spoon the remaining salsa over the shells. The salsa not only adds flavor but also helps to keep the pasta moist while baking.
Bake: Bake the prepared dish in your preheated oven for 40 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld and the cheese to melt into a gooey delight.
Final Touches: After removing the dish from the oven, sprinkle it with sliced green onions and the remaining ¼ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese. Serve with a dollop of sour cream on each shell.
Tips and Variations
- Meat Variations: You can substitute ground beef with ground turkey or even a vegetarian meat substitute for a lighter version.
- Cheese Options: Feel free to experiment with different types of cheese like Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack for a spicier kick.
- Add Vegetables: Incorporate diced bell peppers or corn into the meat mixture for added texture and nutrition.
- Make Ahead: Assemble the dish ahead of time and refrigerate. Simply bake it when you're ready to eat.
Storing and Reheating
- Refrigeration: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheating: Reheat in the microwave or oven until thoroughly warmed. If using the oven, cover with foil to prevent drying out.
Nutritional Information (per serving)
- Calories: 350
- Protein: 20g
- Carbohydrates: 30g
- Fat: 15g
- Sodium: 700mg
- Fiber: 4g
- Preparation Time: 25 minutes
- Cooking Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 65 minutes
Taco Stuffed Shells are a delightful fusion that brings together the comforting goodness of pasta and the bold flavors of tacos. It's a versatile dish that can be tweaked to suit your taste preferences, making it a perfect recipe for family dinners or casual get-togethers. Whether you're a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, this recipe is straightforward and sure to impress. So why wait? Give this delicious twist on taco night a try and savor the flavors of Taco Stuffed Shells!