Giant ricotta stuffed shells with creamy and delicious mozzarella and spinach make the most amazing and quick weeknight dinner. It's a completely vegetarian dinner that uses only a couple of pantry ingredients and is easy enough for weeknight dinners!
Before I go putting all kinds of creative spins on this dinner, let's get real. This is a pasta bake pure and simple. Which is perfect because this week has been one of my most hectic this year and all I ever really want during times like this is a pasta bake! Who's with me?
I know. Pasta bakes are the unsung hero of the hungry, the tired, everyone in need of comfort and all those of us who want to make it a little fancy, but we also really need to get stuff done, too!
That's where this pasta bake comes in. We're keeping it low maintenance by making it vegetarian. You can use the arrabbiata sauce if you want to, but a jar of pasta with some tried and true additions like bay, garlic, onion and some oregano is really all that's required.
So, let me talk you through this!
Ricotta Stuffed Shells in 30 Minutes
- Boil pasta shells and drain.
- Mix the ricotta and spinach in a bowl with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Make sure that you season the ricotta to your own taste. I haven't put a specific amount of salt in this recipe because everyone likes a different level of seasoning. Ricotta is kinda bland and needs some help, so lend it a hand with some salt and pepper. You can also add some parmesan to the ricotta mix if you like. I intentionally kept the ingredients short and simple, but feel free to add to it if you like.
- Make the sauce. Simmer a jar of passata with some onions and garlic. Add in some oregano, thyme and rosemary.
- Stuff the shells, snuggle them into the sauce and bake the whole dish over with cheese!
Yep. That's it.
Even though the whole thing is pretty quick and easy, I realize that you may have a couple of questions. Like...
Can you freeze stuffed pasta shells?
You sure can!!! Just make sure that you wrap and cover them tightly with a layer of cling film then a layer of foil. That helps protect everything from the freezer burn. If you're anything like me, that would never be an issue because nothing is ever in there long enough to be affected!
How do you cook large pasta shells? They seem a little intimidating!
Have no fear. Cooking large pasta shells is just like cooking smaller ones. You'll need at least 6 quarts of boiling, well-salted water. The larger the pasta the more water you'll need so it doesn't all stick together.
*Secret tip no. 1... it's not putting oil in the water that prevents the pasta from sticking together, it's the amount of water the pasta can float in, while it boils.
So, if we're pasta bake kindred spirits, and I
think know we are, then you, this pasta and a serious amount of mozzarella have a weeknight date this week!
THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING AND COOKING ALONG WITH ME! IF YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE OR HAVE A QUESTION, I’D LOVE IT IF YOU LEFT A COMMENT AND A RATING. YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW ALONG ON PINTEREST, FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM TO SEE WHAT WE’RE EATING, PINNING AND A LITTLE BEHIND THE SCENES TOO!
Easy Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- 20 large pasta shells
- 10 oz frozen spinach thawed (excess water squeezed out)
- 1 ½ cups low fat ricotta
- Salt to taste
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 cups grated mozzarella
- For the sauce
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 2 cups passata or any think tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water according to the package instructions. Drain and reserve.
- To make the ricotta filling, place the ricotta, spinach nutmeg and salt and pepper in a medium boil and stir to combine with a fork. Stuff this mixture into the drained and cool shells. There should be enough filling for about 1 tablespoon of mixture per shell.
- To make the sauce, sweat the onions and garlic in a large pot and cook until the onions and garlic are soft and fragrant. Add the dried herbs and the passata or tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Place the sauce in the bottom of a pan and layer the stuffed shells over top. Generously sprinkle the cheese over the shells and bake until the whole dish is hot and the cheese is turning golden and starting to bubble.
Love this recipe it s so easy and my toddler love it too. That was a bit of a surprise. I admit switching to full fat cheese ricotta cheese.
Christy Hasch says
I had cooked pasta shells and leftover sauce in the freezer, and all of the other ingredients on hand. I used less.mizzerella, and put some of the sauce on top. It baked in about 15 minutes. Delicious! Definitely a keeper!