Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Cheesy Tomato Shells

Tiny pasta shells cooked in a nicely seasoned tomato soup and milk-based sauce and finished with shredded cheese.
Tiny pasta shells cooked in a nicely seasoned tomato soup and milk-based sauce and finished with shredded cheese.

Cheesy Tomato Shells

We all have a least one of those simple foods that brings back memories and this is one of mine. Another one of those sinfully simple recipes that deserves a mention especially since it makes a great Lenten meal.

When I was a young gal, I used to hang out and spend the night at my cousins' house every once in awhile. Debra was close to my age and Patty wasn't all that far behind us, and we all got along and had a good time. It was nice to get out of the house and hang with them.

My aunt Christine, known to us as Nanny Keke as we called all of our aunts by nanny, was also my godmother, and I loved her so much. She always seemed so glamourous and stunning, with this very unique streak of whitened hair in the front, always dressed fashionably and had painted toenails in her sparkly, blinged out, mostly thong sandals.

She died nearly a year after we lost my Mama and I miss them and their sister Rosalie, who passed some 10 years later, so much. Those three were the glue that held that side of the family together.
Just inserting a quick reminder here.... that this is a blog, not just a "recipe site," and yes, there is a difference! I want to first thank all of you who have supported my work over the years, but if you aren't interested in the chit chat, info, photos, tips and such in a post, as always, you'll find the complete recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, a little bit further down the page. Just swipe or scroll down to the bottom of the post!
Anyway, on those sleepover nights, sometimes Nanny would make this simple mix of shell noodles with tomato soup and a couple slices of American cheese that I always had fond memories of. Course, y'all know me... though it's pretty darned good in its original simplicity, I went and dressed it up a bit for the website here.

Whenever I want a little bowl of comfort in a hurry, this always seems to do it and it always makes me think of her. It's a little something different to do with a can of tomato soup, so I hope that you try it!

Turns out it's a good Lent-friendly meal too. Here's how to make my Cheesy Tomato Shells!

I thought I would add a few seasoning vegetables so in a lidded saucepan, heat up some butter and sauté some onion and sweet bell pepper. I used red because that's what I happened to have to use up in the produce drawer. Use what ya got!

Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3 minutes.

Whisk together the milk and tomato soup and add to veggies. Bring to a boil. I couldn't remember if Nanny used water, part milk and water or what, but I imagine any of the above would be just fine.

I think my Nanny only used salt and pepper to season, but y'all know me! I'm juicing it up a bit with Creole or Cajun seasoning, some dried basil and parsley and red pepper flakes in addition to the salt and pepper.

Stir in the dry, uncooked pasta. I'm using a cup of tiny shells - these pictured are the Goya brand. I think the tiny ones work the best. Anything else and I think I'd probably cook the shells in water separately and reduce the noted milk in the recipe.

Add seasonings.

Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and cook until pasta is completely cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Stir in cheese, remove from heat, cover and let rest until cheese is fully melted. I had an already opened partial block of Monterey jack cheese to use up, so that's what I used this time, but I've used all kinds of different cheeses, including good ole American slices!

Taste and adjust seasonings; stir well before serving. Garnish with additional red pepper flakes if desired. It's a delicious, easy dish and great for those observing Lent.

For more of my favorite pasta recipes, check out the collection on my Pinterest page!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Posted by on February 22, 2023
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