1– 24 oz jar marinara sauce of choice (I like Rao’s tomato basil)
4 cups water
16 oz pasta shells
1 1/2 tsp salt, more or less to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, to taste
1 cup milk
1/2 c shredded cheddar or parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat a few T olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add ground beef and cook, breaking up with the back of your spoon until fully cooked through, about 5- 7 minutes. Drain excess fat.
Add onion and garlic if using and season with salt and pepper; cook another 2-3 minutes, until onion is translucent and garlic fragrant.
Add in marinara, water, and pasta shells. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until pasta is cooked and liquid has reduced to a creamy consistency.
Stir in milk and cheese if using and adjust salt and pepper.