I had to double- and triple-check that I hadn't already posted this recipe, because it seems inconceivable that I haven't. This one, I love. It is a part of my childhood. It is a part of me.
Well, that may be overstating things a bit, but I do really, really enjoy these shells.
It had its naissance on Greenleaf Drive in Parma, Ohio. I was probably about 11 years old, and my family had been invited to my Principal's home for dinner. Mrs. Grusendorf, my principal's wife, presented with the challenge of preparing a filling meal for four adults and five children on a meager private school principal's salary, cooked up this delicious baked pasta dish. Now, it seems odd that we had never had these at our own house, for two reasons: 1)they're really simple to make, especially for my extremely talented home-ec major mother, and 2)they're pasta. But, for whatever reason, we had never had these before. We tasted them, and we loved them.
My father liked them so much, he had my mother ask for the recipe. Mrs. Grusendorf gave us the recipe, which she had simply entitled "Stuffed Shells," but my father, well, he is witty and thought the dish needed a jazzier name. So he christened the dish "Grusendini," in honor of the recipe donor, and the name stuck. Years later, when I asked my mom for the recipe so I could have it for my files, she was unclear about which recipe I was requesting until I said, " You know--Grusendini." And she gave me the recipe in a flash.
I'm making this recipe this week for my family, and 20 years after I first tried i, it is a kid- and man-pleasing family favorite. And I know it will be as tasty this week as it was that first night on Greenleaf Drive.
1/2 box large stuffing shells
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or 2 cups of your homemade sauce)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Additional Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown ground beef with onion until no pink remains. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Cook shells until just al dente; drain.
Combine ground beef with the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, and eggs. Mix well.
Cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan with a thin layer of sauce, just so the shells have a bed to sit on and so they won't get stuck to the pan. Using a spoon, stuff the meat mixture into shells, and arrange them in the pan. Top the shells with remaining sauce, taking care to coat all of the pasta with the sauce. Cover with foil and place in the preheated oven for about 3o minutes.
Remove shells from oven and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and additional Parmesan, if desired. Return pan to oven until cheese is melted and browned to your liking.
Serves 6 (easily--these shells are filling!)