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Delicious Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Delicious Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Spinach and ricotta stuffed shells — jumbo pasta shells filled with a mixture of spinach and ricotta cheese, smothered in a chunky red sauce and topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

For as long as I can remember my family have had pasta for dinner on Christmas Eve, with the holiday ham reserved for Christmas Day. My mom is well known for her lasagna, and I kept the lasagna tradition going for a while with my own family. A few years back, I tried something a little different while still upholding the tradition of Christmas Eve pasta. I’ve made penne alla vodka and baked rigatoni, but this year I made spinach and ricotta stuffed shells. Sounds good, right? Earlier this week I gave my stuffed shells recipe a trial run and am so pleased with how it turned out. YUM. It’s definitely a holiday-worthy pasta dish.

It’s not often that a recipe turns out perfect the first time, but this time the planets aligned and have given me pasta perfection. I wouldn’t change anything about how these stuffed shells turned out. Compared to a lot of baked pasta dishes, these shells take a little more time to assemble but the end result is definitely worth it.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • It’s healthy and easy to make. There aren’t many recipes that can boast that.
  • Pasta is such a comfort food, especially when they’re stuffed with something smooth and creamy like this spinach and ricotta mixture.
  • You can play around with the ingredients in the stuffing. Want meat? Want a favorite vegetable? Mince it up and add it!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients

You’ll feel great making a dish that features so much GREEN. It’s tasty AND healthy!

  • 2 boxes of large pasta shells
  • 3 15 oz containers of light ricotta cheese
  • bundle of thinly sliced spinach
  • marinara sauce, either homemade or purchased from a store
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare the pasta shells according to the package instructions, but remove them from heat 1 minute early. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil over MEDIUM heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil. Add the cooled spinach to the mixture. Transfer the ricotta filling to a piping bag.
  • Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce at the bottom of a casserole dish. Fill each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture and arrange them in the dish.
  • Top the shells with more marinara sauce, followed by mozzarella and extra Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions

These pasta shells are hearty as is, but if you want a side (or think you’ll have room in your belly for more food), try these on for size:

Homemade Buttermilk Bread: Every pasta — by law — should come with bread. How else are you going to absorb all that lovely marinara sauce?

The Best Classic Pea Salad: The site features many a salad. I’m suggesting this one because it is creamy and so, will fit right in alongside the pasta shells, and it still uses green veggies as its base (as opposed to potatoes or pasta noodles).

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup: I wanted to suggest a nice, light soup that won’t take longer than the main so here is one that features roasted butternut squash. It’s healthy and it won’t fill you up so much that you don’t have room for the pasta.

FAQs

How many shells will I get out of the mixture?

Depending on how much filling you put into each pasta shell, you may or may not use the entire box of shells. I was very generous with the filling and ended up with 27 shells. You should be able to feed 8-10 people with this recipe, with a serving size of 3 to 4 shells a person.

See Also
Best Brownies Recipe

I don’t have a piping bag. Any suggestions?

If you don’t have a piping bag, a classic kitchen hack is to use a plastic bag with one corner cut off.

Why does the dish need to be rested before serving?

The main reason is that it allows the flavors to mingle and the sauce to thicken a bit. Excess liquid will be absorbed and make for a more cohesive dish. The benefits of letting the dish rest is that it will cool down slightly and won’t burn your mouth. The resting time also allows you to shift your attention to your sides or setting the table or whatever else you need to do before calling everyone to dinner.

Can I make this beforehand?

You could easily assemble this dish a day or two ahead. Just cover with foil and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it off and serve.

How To Store Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Let the pasta cool to room temperature. Store in airtight containers and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to eat it again, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil then warm in the oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. If you would like to store the pasta shells longer, you can freeze it by following the above steps. They should keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, let the pasta thaw in the fridge overnight then follow the steps above.

Delicious Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

About a Mom
4 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 455 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 boxes boxes of large pasta shells
  • 3 containers (15 oz each) light ricotta cheese
  • 1 bundle of thinly sliced spinach
  • marinara sauce either homemade or purchased from a store
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the pasta shells according to the package instructions, but remove them from heat 1 minute early. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil. Add the cooled spinach to the mixture. Transfer the ricotta filling to a piping bag or a plastic bag with one corner cut off.
  • Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce at the bottom of a casserole dish. Fill each pasta shell with the ricotta mixture and arrange them in the dish.
  • Top the shells with more marinara sauce, followed by mozzarella and extra Parmesan cheese.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Depending on how much filling you put into each pasta shell, you may or may not use the entire box of shells. I was very generous with the filling and ended up with 27 shells. You should be able to feed 8-10 people with this recipe, with a serving size of 3 to 4 shells per person.

Nutrition

Calories: 455kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 30gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 19gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.004gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 546mgPotassium: 257mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1422IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 596mgIron: 1mg
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