Italian Shells: A Family Recipe!

I’ve been on a big comfort food kick these days…surprise surprise! I’m not feeling much like eating, but when I do, I want to make a recipe that is warm and soft and tasty. (This week, at least!)

Last year I gave my mom and my mother-in-law was a cookbook. That’s probably something THEY should have given to ME, you say? Well, this one was a bit different.


Basically, it’s a blank cookbook, split into normal cookbook “sections”. It’s for moms to record family recipes for their daughters – which I think is totally cool!

My mom gave me this book back filled with family recipes…written in her own handwriting…which I think is totally cool, too. One day my mom won’t be here anymore, and this will definitely be something to treasure!

So I started to flip through what she had recorded for me, and I found this entry:


I had TOTALLY forgotten about this one! It’s called Italian Shells, and it really was my favorite! So I decided to make it for my hubby and see what he thought about it!

Italian Shells

1 pound lean ground beef (I used Italian sausage this time)
1/2 pound macaroni shells (I used penne this time)
1/2 quart marinara sauce
4 ounces provolone cheese, shredded (I just tore mine up)
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cook shells, rinse and drain. Brown beef. Add salt and pepper. Stir in marinara. Simmer 20 minutes. Line casserole dish with layers of shells, sauce, sour cream and cheeses. Repeat layers until there are no more ingredients, ending with cheese on top.



Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes more. When the cheese on the top is melted and lightly brown, the dish is done!


It was JUST AS GOOD as I remembered it being, and my hubby loved it!


As with most things I prepare in my kitchen, there are lots of variables that can be changed out in the recipe if needed, or if wanted!

For instance: instead of beef, used ground turkey, or Italian sausage like I did, or almost any other kind of meat! Instead of macaroni, feel free to used another pasta. I used Ronzoni’s Penne Rigate, the Gluten-Free Delicious White Pasta Taste version. I also used Prego’s Italian Sauce Pesto Marinara, and I think that added a lot to the dish!


I hope this post inspires you to create something along these lines, and to gather up an old family recipe! Because there’s never a bad time for old family recipes!

Due to the amount of comments from all of my wonderful readers, it is not always possible for me to respond to each one. However, I absolutely do read them all, and if youโ€™d like to address something specific, or have a question for me, please donโ€™t hesitate to email me at I will respond to your email as soon as possible! Thank you for visiting the blog!

16 thoughts on “Italian Shells: A Family Recipe!

  1. I actually usually bake my pasta or penne with Chicken strips or mince meat. I am gonna try your Italian Shells family recipe coz as it happens I do have shells ๐Ÿ™‚ Sweet. Thanks for sharing your fav as a kid!

  2. when I got married my mom made us a cookbook. A few years later I published one for family members with many of the same recipes plus new ones.

  3. I tried to leave a comment a second ago, but got an error message about your comments.php file? Anyway, I love the cookbook idea. My mom doesn’t cook, but the few things she does cook, I have her recipes on handwritten cards and they mean so much to me. I wish I had some from my grandmother who was a great cook! I’m also gonna have to try those Italian shells!

  4. I can see why this was a fave when you were a kid. It looks delicious! And I love the idea of a blank cookbook for a mom and grandma to write down all their wonderful recipes that are not only tasty but brings back the best memories. Love it!!

  5. That made me hungry! Thanks for sharing one of your favorite recipes. It’s great to be able to record your favorites in one book. That’s a really nice idea!

  6. Baked pasta really such a great meal to share with the family. My Mom loves to cook it especially when our family Day. Baked Pasta reminds me of My Family that’s Why I really love it.

  7. This old family Italian shells recipe looks and sounds so delicious. My grandmother used to make a dish like this for the whole family. I will have to try this recipe for sure. It is important to me to keep the old family recipes going.

  8. Your recipe looks amazing! It’s getting to be dinner time around here, so I’m ready to dig in. But, even more, I love your recipe book written by your mom. It touches my heart. My mom wrote a recipe book for me (also in her handwriting), when I got married. She also wrote one for my sister. They are definite treasures, especially since my mom is no longer with us. Enjoy your Italian Shells, and the beautiful gift from your mother. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Life With Lorelai

  9. I am just loving that cookbook idea. Both my kids & husband loves anything that combines Cheese & Pasta, I am pretty sure a delicious baked pasta like this will be a great choice for our weekend dinner.

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