Since I’ve utilized my Instant Pot a few times now, I’ve become more comfortable using it. It’s no longer a deathly killing-machine in my eyes. I found a few recipes online for one of my favorite dishes, stuffed shells, so I thought Stephen could jump in the kitchen with me and help me out.
The ingredients themselves were fairly straightforward – jumbo shells (not cooked), ricotta, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and spinach to make us feel healthier. I loved the part of not having to pre-cook the pasta prior to setting up the shells – thank you Instant Pot.
Clearly my dumb ass forgot to include the ground beef and egg in the main ingredient photo, so this is my friendly reminder.
As for the stuffed shell filling, dump out 15 oz of ricotta, the defrosted (or cooked) spinach, egg, and seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley).
Separately, turn the IP on saute high and cook the onions then the ground beef. Once cooked through, season and add the tomato sauce and saute on low while making the shells themselves.
Once you have the stuffing mixture fully incorporated, slowly pour it into a ziplock bag, cut the corner about 1/4 inch off, and have your significant other pipe the filling into the uncooked pasta shell.
The setup is pretty straightforward – As many stuffed shells as your filling makes, half the sauce in the IP, half the sauce in a separate bowl for layering, and some cheese.
I do want to note that the stuffing should NOT be overflowing like most of these shells are (thank you, Stephen), since they will seep out into the sauce when cooking very quickly.
It’s a personal opinion how to layer your shells, but I found my star/circle pretty solid. Basically just do you in terms of layering design. First layer down, slightly push the pasta into the sauce – but do NOT let the shells touch the bottom of the pot.
Keep putting slightly more sauce on top of each pasta layer, adding mozzarella, then continuing the pasta layer again.
This should go on until you run out of stuffed pasta shells. At this point, the top layer should definitely be straight up cheese – both mozzarella and parmesan cheese. There needs to be just enough water to reach the very top of the pasta.
Definitely not as pretty as I hoped, but still tasty nonetheless. My issue was probably not adding enough water to reach the top of the pasta. Duly noted going forward.
Definitely no fail in my book, especially since Stephen ate it up like his life depended on it. If you can get past the process of manually stuffing the shells (or getting your S/O to do the dirty work), you’ll be greatly rewarded with an amazing treat.
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1-2 boxes of jumbo shells 12 oz (I used about 1 full box and some stragglers from the second box)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 15 oz frozen chopped spinach, dethawed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- Handful of basil, chopped
- 1-2 cups of water
- Seasonings – salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley
- In a large bowl, add the ricotta, dethawed spinach, and egg. Season with a tablespoon each of garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix together and set to the side.
- Turn the IP to high heat saute and add olive oil. Add onions once hot, stir for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Throw in the ground beef and stir only occasionally, letting the meat brown.
- While watching the IP brown, go back to the bowl with the ricotta mixture, and find a deep cup and ziplock bag. Push the ziplock bag into the cup, with one of the tips hitting the bottom, and pour as much of the ricotta mixture as you can into the ziplock bag. Cut off about 1/4 inch of the tip, and start to pipe filing into the dried pasta shells.
- Fill as many pasta shells as possible on a flat surface (I took about 1 whole carton of 12 oz shells along with probably 10 additional from another box), and set them to the side. Remember not to overfill like I did – they will secrete.
- Go back to checking your IP – the meat should be browned and onions translucent. Add the whole can of tomato sauce and continue to stir. Taste for seasonings if needed.
- Preparation! Take a little more than half of the tomato sauce out of the IP and into a separate bowl – this will be for layering.
- First place the already stuffed shells into the tomato sauce in the IP (but not all the way). I could fit 14 per layer, but I imagine it’d change depending on your vessel.
- Once gently placed into the sauce, add a few spoonfulls of sauce on top of them, along with shredded mozzarella and parmesan.
- Continue this layering until the shells run out. The very top layer should be super cheesy with tons of mozzarella, of course.
- Using the empty tomato sauce jar, fill a cup or so of water and pour it along the sides of the pot. Once the water reaches just to the top of the pasta, stop.
- Set IP on high pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release, and serve while hot. You can always add additional cheese to the top, close the lid for a few minutes, and you’ll have gooey cheesy toppings.