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Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells makes the most delicious dinner! Jumbo pasta shells are stuffed with a creamy spinach and ricotta filling and melty cheese. If you’re craving Italian comfort food, you need to try this dish!
Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells
Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells is the ultimate comfort food that the entire family will love. This hearty baked pasta dish is so easy to make and can be prepped the day before.
The jumbo filled shell has a mixture of fresh spinach, creamy ricotta cheese, and our favorite Italian cheeses. It’s layered with marinara sauce and more shredded cheese. You won’t be able to have just one shell, I can guarantee it!
Serve these Stuffed Shells at your next pasta night, holiday party, or any an occasion because everyone loves pasta! I love serving this with fresh made Garlic Bread and a fresh Salad for the ultimate dinner.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Quick Meal: This meal only takes about 15 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to bake. I always recommend doubling the recipe so you have an extra tray of these in your freezer.
Crowd Pleaser: Everyone loves cheesy pasta especially when it’s stuffed in a giant pasta shell! The whole family will absolutely love everything about this recipe, even if you have a picky eater or two.
Best Comfort Food: There isn’t anything better than cheesy stuffed shells when we want comfort for dinner. The spinach and cheese mixture is loaded with flavor, freshness, and is ultra creamy.
- Jumbo Pasta Shells: You want to jumbo sized shells so theres plenty of room to stuff, the small shells won’t work for this recipe.
- Ricotta: Use can use whole-milk or park-skim cheese. Ricotta will add creaminess, a touch of sweetness, and texture. Please note that the whole milk ricotta will be more creamy.
- Spinach: Fresh baby spinach is always best but feel free to use frozen spinach, just make sure to ring out as much excess water as possible.
- Cheese: We use two kinds of cheese, mozzarella and parmesan cheese (or you can use parmigiano reggiano for a more authentic flavor). I always recommend shredding your own cheese so it’s extra creamy and you can prevent clumps from the bagged stuff.
- Marinara sauce: Use your favorite jarred marinara sauce or make your own from scratch.
- Egg: We use one large egg that helps bind the ricotta mixture together and gives the mixture an extra creamy texture. Be sure not to leave this one out!
- Garlic: Fresh is best as apposed to the jarred stuff. Use as many garlic cloves as you want, depending on how much garlic flavor you want to shine through the shells. You could also use garlic powder instead, I recommend using 2 teaspoons.
- Salt and black pepper: For taste.
How To Make Stuffed Shells With Ricotta Cheese and Spinach
Prepare pasta shells. Cook the shells in a large pot of salted water according to box instructions or until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain and lightly coat in olive oil or cooking spray to prevent the shells from sticking together.
Prepare wilted spinach. In a large frying pan, large skillet, or sauté pan on medium heat add olive oil and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain excess liquid. Let spinach cool for a few minutes and then chop.
Add marinara sauce. Pour the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish or casserole dish, set aside.
Mix ricotta filling together. In a large bowl combine spinach, ricotta, cheeses, Italian seasoning, egg, salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
Stuff shells. Stuff each shell with the filling of about 2 heaping tablespoons in each shell and place in the dish. Top with more shredded mozzarella cheese (optional).
Bake! Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!
Add spice: Add red pepper flakes to the ricotta and spinach mixture to add a kick. Use as much or as little depending on how much spice you want to add.
Add meat: Add ground beef, sausage, chicken, pork, or anything else that you love in baked pastas.
Fresh herbs: Fresh basil, fresh parsley, and oregano are great additions. Add the herbs to the ricotta mixture.
Vegan variation: Use vegan ricotta, vegan cheese and omit the egg to make this a vegan dish.
Sauce variation: Instead of using a tomato sauce for the base, switch it up and use a white afredo sauce for an even creamier texture.
Want to come home to dinner already made? Simply prepare the recipe but don’t bake them until the night you want to enjoy them. Cover the baking tray tightly with plastic wrap and store shells in the refrigerator up to 3 days in advance.
Alternatively, you could bake the shells completely and all you would have to do is microwave or reheat them in the oven.
Leftovers & Storage
To-Store: Leftover Ricotta Stuffed Shells makes delicious leftovers. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
When ready to reheat, you can microwave or heat in the oven.
Bake the leftovers in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until heated through.
To-Freeze: This recipe freezes well and it’s always a good idea to have frozen shells packed away in your freezer at all times. Bake pasta shells and let cool completely. Place in a freezer-friendly dish or airtight container and freeze up to 3 months.
When ready to bake, bake frozen at 350 degrees F until warmed about 1 hour, or bake thawed at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Make sure the shells are warmed throughout.
Other Comforting Dinner Recipes
- Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Chicken Gnocchi Soup
- Cheesy Chicken Pasta
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
- Homemade Chicken Alfredo
- The Best Pastina
- Baked Gnocchi
- Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- One Pot Ricotta and Lemon Pasta
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Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Shells
- 19-20 jumbo pasta shells
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese shredded or grated
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 whole large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- chopped parsley (optional) for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and coat a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook the shells in a large pot of salted boiling water according to box instructions or until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain and lightly coat in olive oil or cooking spray to prevent the shells from sticking together.
- In a large frying or sauté pan, heat olive oil and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain excess liquid. Let spinach cool for a few minutes and then chop.
- Pour the marinara sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish, set aside.
- In a large bowl combine spinach, ricotta, cheeses, Italian seasoning, egg, salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
- Stuff each shell with the filling of about 2 heaping tablespoons in each shell and place in the dish. Top with more shredded mozzarella cheese (optional).
- Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!