Anyone can perfect this classic Stuffed Pasta Shells recipe!
The ultimate comfort food is surprisingly quick and easy to make! A luscious combination of seasoned ricotta and parmesan cheeses is mixed with spinach and savory seasonings and then stuffed into jumbo shells and placed in a casserole dish. Topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, it is baked until melty and golden for a spectacular Italian dinner that is sure to satisfy. Why not make this special meal ahead of time, then pop it in the oven just before it’s time to eat? So easy!
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Best Pasta Recipe
- No one will miss the meat in this recipe! It’s the go-to recipe for vegetarians!
- Pasta shells and cheese are a win-win combination that will become a family favorite in no time! Just add some homemade No Knead Bread, a crispy Kale Caesar Salad and dinner is served!
- Simple, casserole-style recipes are perfectly portable for potlucks and picnics. Stuffed pasta shells can be prepped in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to bake!
- Freeze uncooked or cooked stuffed shells in individual portions for future meals. Just pop out what’s needed, defrost, and bake.
Stuffed Shells Ingredients
PASTA: This recipe uses jumbo shells to hold all that cheesy, seasoned filling. But if large shells aren’t available, try manicotti. Manicotti is a large tubular-shaped pasta that can be filled easily as well!
FILLING: This recipe has the perfect combination of cheeses and spinach! If ricotta is a bit outside of the budget, substitute small curd cottage cheese. Add small diced mushrooms, petite diced tomatoes, or thinly sliced brussels sprouts to the filling for more texture and flavor. Mix a choice of meat (optional) into the cheese filling, choose finely ground cooked pork sausage, ground beef or turkey.
MARINARA: Top stuffed pasta shells with any favorite marinara or even a jar of Alfredo sauce for an interesting twist to this recipe!
How to Make Stuffed Shells
A fancy Italian dinner doesn’t have to be hard to make, there are just a few steps to pasta perfection!
- Cook pasta shells al dente and set them aside.
- Mix remaining ingredients (except marinara and mozzarella) in a bowl and then scoop the cheese mixture into a zippered bag. Snip off a corner of the bag and pipe into prepared shells.
- Cover with marinara, mozzarella cheese, and bake (per recipe below) until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
PRO TIP: Cook a couple of extra shells in case one or more breaks. Slightly broken pasta shells will still work!
Simple to Follow Pasta Tips
- Cook pasta al dente. This helps maintain the structure of the pasta.
- For bests results, after cooking pasta, run the shells under cold water to stop the cooking process and rinse off extra starch.
PRO TIP: Save leftover pasta water in an ice cube tray and use to thicken future sauces or soups!
Other Delicious Main Dishes!
- Ham And Pea Pasta Bake – 15 minute prep!
- Pork Stew Recipe – delicious served over noodles.
- Instant Pot Macaroni And Cheese – a favorite recipe.
- Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole – easy way to enjoy this classic dish.
- Caprese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms – another delish meatless main.
Stuffed Pasta Shells
- 24 jumbo pasta shells about 8-10 ounces*
- 15-16 ounces ricotta cheese about 2 cups or so
- 10 ounces frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry, 1 package, (about ½ cup)
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or ½ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon basil, and ¼ teaspoon parsley)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ½ cups tomato pasta sauce 1 jar, a little more or less is OK
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- Grease a 3 quart or 9x13 baking dish.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook pasta shells to al dente according to package directions. Do not overcook. Run cold water over them to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, egg, salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Add to a zip top bag** and cut the end (or a piping bag). Use a bag clip to close it to make it easier to handle.
- Add 1 cup pasta sauce to the bottom of the baking dish and spread.
- Pipe ricotta mixture into shells evenly and place in the baking pan, squeezing them in to fit.
- Spoon remaining pasta sauce over top, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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Recipe slightly adapted from Spend With Pennies