These cheesy stuffed pasta shells are filled with three types of cheese, spinach, basil, and delicious aromatics! This stuffed shells recipe is perfect for serving a large family or taking to a potluck.
Growing up any time my mom would ask me what I wanted for my birthday dinner, it would always be this stuffed shells recipe. I mean spinach, cheese, garlic… count me in!
First, you’re going to want to put a pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling you’re going to add in the large pasta shells. Make sure to cook them al dente because if they are overcooked, they will be hard to stuff. I even like to spray them down with water when they are done to ensure they stop cooking.
Next, in a skillet you’re going to sauté roughly chopped fresh spinach and minced garlic. Am I the only one that is always astounded when you put a WHOLE bag of spinach in the pan and then it shrinks down to fit in your palm? It gets me every time.
After that you’re going to add the shrunken spinach mixture to a bowl, add mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, one egg, crushed red pepper flakes, and freshly chopped basil. Then mix the whole thing up until all the ingredients are combined.
Stuffing the shells
It wasn’t until maybe the 20th time that I made this recipe, that I found a better way to stuff the shells. I’ve always used a spoon, but I ended up having more on me than in the actual shells [facepalm].
I’m not much of a baker so I don’t have piping bags, instead I used a gallon sized ziplock bag. I emptied the stuffing inside, pushed it to one corner, and cut a hole to allow the stuffing to squeeze out. Ahhhhh much better.
I spread arrabbiata sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. I like using arrabbiata because it gives the dish a nice kick. If you don’t like spicy you can sub your favorite red sauce.
If you have filling leftover, but no more room to add shells you can add some more filling to the ones that you may have skimped on. Add some cheese on top (the theme here is cheese on cheese clearly), cover with foil and into the oven they go.
Remove the foil at the end and broil to get cheese brown and bubbly. Top with freshly chopped basil and serve!
These stuffed pasta shells are the most requested by my family/friends when I ask them what they want me to make and I know your family will love it too!
Love this stuffed shells recipe, but looking for a low carb option? Try my stuffed zucchini rolls, which has the same stuffing with hot Italian sausage inside!
Things you’ll need:
- Pasta pot
- skillet to sauté spinach
- large bowl to mix ingredients
- gallon ziplock bag (if piping)
- large baking dish
- aluminum foil
Visit my store for useful tools and favorite kitchen items
Affiliate notice: The links above are affiliate links meaning I do make a small profit from your purchases. Your price is not affected by this commission. Thank you for supporting Girl with the Iron Cast
See the video below for cooking and assembly!Print
These spinach and cheese stuffed shells are a cheese lovers dream! With 3 cheeses, spinach, and delicious aromatics, this is the perfect vegetarian family meal.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 25 min
- Total Time: 40 min
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Cuisine: Italian
- 1–12oz box Barilla jumbo shells
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 10oz bag fresh spinach leaves, roughly-chopped
- 12 oz skim-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded skim-milk mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped, & more for garnish
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 jar (24oz) of arrabbiata sauce or any red sauce
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In a large pot cook jumbo shells according to package instruction to al dente (don’t over cook or they will break when filling)
- In a skillet heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat, add garlic and cook till fragrant about a minute. Add in chopped spinach, fresh ground pepper, salt, and sauté till spinach begins to wilt. About 2-3 min.
- In a large bowl add spinach mixture, cheeses, egg, basil, red pepper flakes and mix together.
- In a glass baking dish spread red sauce on the bottom evenly
- Using a ziplock bag as a piping bag or a spoon, stuff all the shells with mixture, top with remaining Parmesan
- Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and low broil until cheese begins to bubble and brown. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
- When boiling the pasta shells, make sure you do not overcook or they will break when filling. Cook pasta to al dente and they will finish cooking once in the oven.
- To fill the shells you can use a spoon, but it may get messy. I took a gallon sized ziplock bag and put all the filling inside and cut a hole to mimic a piping bag. This made filling the shells less messy.
Keywords: stuffed shells, spinach, ricotta, italian