Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella and Meat Sauce

5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: Julia Frey of Vikalinka


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 lbs ground beef extra-lean
  • 2 cups/800 gr/2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup/ 125 ml store-bought pesto
  • 1 lbs pasta shells
  • 1 1/2 cups/150 gr mozzarella grated
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


  • Heat the oven to 400F/200C.
  • Cook chopped onion in olive oil over low heat for 5-7 minutes until soft but not coloured.
  • Add ground beef and cook, stirring it the whole until no longer pink.
  • Add, salt, chopped basil and canned tomatoes, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes, stir one in a while and break up any large tomato chunks with a wooden spoon.
  • While the sauce is simmering, cook the shells in a large pot according to package instructions. It's important not to overcook pasta but cook it al dente as it will be further cooked in the oven.
  • At the end of cooking time stir pesto into the sauce and take it off the heat.
  • Drain pasta and gently toss it with the sauce in the same pot the pasta was cooked in.
  • Put half of the pasta in the baking dish and sprinkle with half of mozzarella and Parmesan.
  • Top it up with the remaining pasta and sprinkle with more mozzarella and Parmesan.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until cheese is golden and pasta is hot and bubbly.