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Giant Pasta Shells: Turkey, Garlic and Sundried Tomato Pesto

This is A Canadian Food Original Recipe that is excellent as a main or as a one bite wonder.
Course Pasta
Cuisine Canadian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 45
Author Valerie Lugonja


  • 1 large onion , minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 large cloves of garlic , peeled and minced (or one large bulb)
  • one kilo ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons of dried basil
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 8 ounces of sun-dried tomato pesto (homemade recipe follows)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste
  • heavy cream
  • mozzarella , Gouda, or gruyere cheese
  • 1 and a half boxes of giant pasta shells (made with durum wheat)


  1. Sauté onion over medium heat until translucent (about 3-5 minutes)
  2. Add garlic; sauté for 30 seconds
  3. Add meat to brown (5-8 minutes), stirring often to break down
  4. Add basil and pesto, stir to combine
  5. Add cheese, stir to melt into mixture; season with salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. While mixture cools, boil shells until al dente
  7. Drain and drizzle with olive oil to keep separate; set aside
  8. Let mixture cool until manageable; stuff pasta shells generously
  9. Freeze individually on cookie sheets; wrap well, label with date and freeze until needed


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Place stuffed shells in baking dish; cover bottom with heavy cream (just a skim to cover bottom of casserole dish)
  3. Slice cheese of choice and cover shells; tent foil over dish and bake 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly
  4. Serve with a tossed green salad


  1. Each box of shells has about 30 good shells in it once they are cooked and it takes about 20 minutes to cook them; discard the broken bits
  2. Each recipe will make about 45 shells, so I usually double the recipe and use 3 boxes of shells

Recipe Notes

Six shells is ample for an individual serving. If making in a large casserole, count 5 per person. When serving as a "one bite wonder" at a huge potluck party, or as an appetizer at the beginning of a meal, I add thin slivers of fresh garlic into the center of the meat stuffed into each large shell to increase the garlic pucker power punch; it is extraordinary for a small portion.