Stuffed Ricotta and Spinach Shells
This easy recipe for spinach and ricotta stuffed shells combines three flavorful cheeses, tender garlicky spinach, and marinara sauce, all nestled in jumbo pasta shells for a crowd-pleasing dinner.
- 1 (12 ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach roughly chopped
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese whole milk or part-skim
- 2 cups 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 1 cup 3.5 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for pasta water
- 10-12 cranks freshly-ground black pepper
- 3 cups about 26 ounces marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, sprinkle with salt, and cook the pasta just to al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes, until the leaves are wilted and bright green. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and set aside to cool briefly.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the spinach and stir well to combine.
Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce across the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Spoon or pipe the spinach-cheese filling into each pasta shell. Place the stuffed shells in the baking dish, tucked close together with the open side up.
Pour remaining marinara evenly on top of the shells, then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10-12 minutes, until the top begins to brown and sauce is bubbling. Serve warm with extra Parmesan and fresh herbs, if desired.
- You may not use all of the pasta shells, but it's nice to have a few extra in case some break while boiling or being filled.
- The ingredient amounts in this recipe are pretty forgiving; if you have a bit less of one cheese or another, etc., it should still turn out great.
- Piping the filling into the shells may seem like an extra step, but in truth it usually saves time and is less messy. Just scoop the filling into a large ziplock or frosting bag, cut off one corner, and pipe about 2 tablespoons into each shell.
Calories: 387kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 1205mg, Potassium: 562mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 2368IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 438mg, Iron: 3mg
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