I've been stuffing pasta shells with different fillings for years, but my family enjoys this version with taco-seasoned meat the most. The frozen shells are so convenient, because you can take out only the number you need for a single-serving lunch or family dinner. Just add zippy taco sauce and bake. —Marge Hodel Roanoke, Illinois
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 envelopes taco seasoning
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
- 24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS (for each casserole):
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 cup taco sauce
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1-1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
- 3 green onions, chopped
- In a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until melted. Transfer to a bowl; cool. Chill for 1 hour.
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Gently toss with butter. Fill each shell with about 3 tablespoons of meat mixture. Place 12 shells in a freezer container. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To prepare remaining shells, spoon salsa into a greased 9-in. square baking dish. Top with stuffed shells and taco sauce. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheeses and chips. Bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through. Serve with sour cream and onions.
- To use frozen shells: Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours (shells will be partially frozen). Spoon salsa into a greased 9-in. square baking dish; top with shells and taco sauce. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with cheeses and chips; proceed as directed. Yield: 2 casseroles (6 servings each).
Originally published as Taco-Filled Pasta Shells in Quick Cooking January/February 2001, p27
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