Italian Basil Beef and Shells
1-1/2 pounds lean Ground Beef
1 (16 oz) box medium-size shells
1 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons dry Italian seasoning
1-1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (8 oz) chive and onion cream cheese, softened
2-1/2 cups half & half
3 tablespoons butter, melted
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (6 oz.) prepared basil pesto
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Cook the pasta shells in salted water per the package instructions until al dente. Drain well.
In a large pot over medium-high heat cook the diced onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 2 minutes until softened. Add the ground beef, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, red pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce. Brown the beef 8-10 minutes, until browned. Drain any excess fat, if needed. Add the cream cheese, half & half and butter to the pot. Stir well, until the cream cheese has completely melted. Remove from heat and add 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, pesto, sundried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and cooked pasta. Mix well. Pour 1/2 of the mixture into the baking dish, sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining mixture and last 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Check at 30 minutes and cover with foil, if needed. Rest on the counter for 5 minutes then garnish with chopped parsley just before serving.
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