Italian Meatballs Wrapped in Jumbo Pasta Shells

Unfortunately now that I’m working again I’ve discovered I don’t cook well when I’m exhausted. I want to, I really do.  I’m like a toddler that can’t stop playing even though she’s way beyond exhaustion and ill as hell. When it’s naptime……it’s naptime.  So, I think I’ve managed to ruin dinner every night this week except for this one.  Sometimes you just feel it. However, I do need to learn when it’s just time to reach out to the pizza delivery man.

However, two nights ago around 6 pm I got my second wind. This, after waking up at 3:45 am and getting to work at 4:30. I just made it very clear to my sweet little family that Mom is cooking but dishes will be done with or without her. Ok…without her.

The tomato sauce in this pasta dish really stands out because I used fresh basil. I happen to have basil growing in a little pot in my backyard, and I’ve been trying to find a good excuse to use it. It’s so pretty and perky and loves where it is. If you have fresh basil leaves, please use them because it will make a difference. If you don’t have some of your own, most grocery stores have them in the produce department.

Here’s my little basil baby –

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Meatballs Wrapped in Jumbo Pasta Shells

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground turkey

1 egg

1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp seasoned salt

1 tsp coarse ground pepper

For the sauce:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

14.5 can tomato sauce

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Dash of balsamic vinegar

4 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried basil)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp pepper

For the shells:

12 oz package jumbo pasta shells, cooked according to package directions

8 oz whole milk Ricotta cheese

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese

3 oz Muenster cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp cream cheese, softened

2 fresh basil leaves

1 egg

Preheat oven to 425º.

Mix all of the turkey ingredients in a mixing bowl thoroughly by hand.  Roll into 1″ size balls and place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until browned on both sides, turning halfway through.  Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Adjust the heat in the oven to 375º.

In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat add the oil, then saute the garlic until fragrant.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat to low and cover.  Stir occasionally and simmer for about 30 minutes and remove from heat.

Using a food processor (or by hand if chopping makes you happy), pulse the Jack cheese, Muenster, Parm and basil until finely coarse; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the Ricotta, cream cheese, Parmesan and egg – then add half of the dry cheese mixture in, stirring to combine. The other half of the dry cheese will go on top before baking.

To assemble, spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9X13 glass pan.  Coat the inside of each pasta shell with about a teaspoon of ricotta mixture, then add a meatball.  Wrap the shell around it and place it in the baking dish.

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Continue with the rest of the ingredients.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

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And below is this dish beside a tweaked version for my picky little Katie (that means no meat).

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Now everybody’s happy.


Dixie Chik


  • Shea

    Shea Goldstein is a writer and the voice behind Dixie Chik Cooks. She's also a recipe developer and brand ambassador. She has been published in several media platforms such as Redbook, Parade, Food Blogger Magazine and more. She has been developing recipes and writing since 2009. Shea is a Southern Belle Who's Thinking About What's For Dinner While Eating Lunch

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Jenny

    hmm… I’ve never thought of putting meatballs in those giant shells. Sounds good though!

  2. Sally Darling

    Oh for Pete’s Sake! This idea is Brilliant! I must try this as soon as I’m not exhausted! Ohh this is just wonderful!

  3. Kate@Diethood

    You have to be at work that early?! Oh no. 🙁 But you can’t stop cooking… that meal looks toooo good!!

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