Spinach and ricotta are the perfect pairing- especially when they are tucked inside a big pasta shell and smothered in marinara. Pair the masterpiece that is stuffed shells with a nice salad and some garlic bread, and you’ll have yourself a winner at the dinner table.
There are tons of variations on this classic suppertime dish, shells come stuffed with everything from a medley of cheeses to Italian sausage to ground turkey. We’ve even seen bolder recipes for enchilada stuffed shells packed with refried beans and enchilada sauce.
For this recipe, we’ll keep it classic with spinach and three kinds of cheese: ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. If you’d like to add ground turkey or ground beef, be sure to cook the meat before adding it to the stuffed shell mixture. One pound of meat would be perfect for this recipe.
Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Ricotta
(makes 4 servings)
- 16 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped and packed tightly when measuring
- 12 ounces skim-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon of dried basil)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/4 cups marinara sauce (click here for a homemade sauce recipe, which we used with our baked ziti recipe, or use store-bought sauce)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat a large pot of water until boiling, add a big pinch of salt to the water, and then add the pasta shells. Cook the pasta shells according to the packageís directions, until the shells are al dente.
- Drain the pasta shells and set them aside.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and let it cook for a minute, until it starts to get a little bit brown, and then add the spinach. While the spinach is cooking, stir it occasionally for about four minutes, or until the leaves start to wilt ñ- the leaves should still be bright green. The entire batch of spinach should reduce in size by half.
- Remove the spinach from the heat and let it cool.
- Grab a mixing bowl and combine the spinach, cheeses, egg, basil, salt, and pepper until everything is evenly blended.
- Lightly grease the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Then, pour 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of the dish (spread it evenly).
- Get the shells and spinach/cheese mixture. Stuff each shell with a heaping spoonful or two of the spinach/cheese mixture (make sure each one is nice and full!), and then place each shell in the baking dish on top of the sauce.
- Cover the shells with the remaining sauce and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil, and then continue baking for about 10 or 15 more minutes (until the top starts to get golden brown and the sauce starts bubbling).
- If desired, sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese and extra slivers of fresh basil for garnish.
Recipe adapted from Fork Knife Swoon