There is something very comforting about hot baked pasta dishes, and one of my favorites is stuffed pasta shells. Jumbo shells are so versatile because you can change the stuffing and create lots of different dishes.
Ingredients you’ll need:
These vegetarian stuffed shells are one of my favorites. The filling is made with sauteed mushrooms and spinach mixed with ricotta and parmesan cheeses which are cooked on top of semi-homemade marinara sauce.
- Jumbo pasta shells. We need the jumbo size to be able to stuff them.
- Baby Bella mushrooms. I like the flavor of baby Bella, and they are easy to find at the grocery store.
- White wine. Dry white wines like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc is good for cooking. Always use a wine you would drink.
- Spinach. We will use roughly chopped fresh spinach, stems removed.
- Garlic is a must in almost all Italian recipes, and it will be used in the sauce.
- Shallots or onions. We will use them to flavor the store-bought marinara sauce.
- Ricotta cheese. Full-fat ricotta is the best option, but you could use the reduced-fat version. I wouldn’t recommend using fat-free ricotta.
- Parmesan cheese. I like to buy a piece of parmesan and grate it myself. Please do not buy pre-grated cheese. It doesn’t melt properly and doesn’t taste as good.
How to make Stuffed Shells Recipe?
Vegetarian stuffed shells come together fairly quickly once you have all the ingredients prepped and when you manage to do two tasks at the same time, like cooking the pasta while the sauce is simmering.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and brown until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the white wine. When the wine has reduced by half, add the roughly chopped spinach and cook until wilted and almost no liquid is left on the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
- Using the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the chopped onion and minced garlic until fragrant.
- Pour the marinara sauce into the skillet and simmer until warmed through and flavors have developed about 8 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells until almost cooked, but still a bit firm. Drain and reserve. Remember they will continue cooking later, so don’t overcook them or they might fall apart when stuffed.
- Into the bowl with the spinach/mushroom mixture, add the ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup of shredded parmesan, and fresh chopped oregano. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
- Stuff each shell with about 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and arrange them in a circular fashion on top of the simmering sauce. Be careful not to burn yourself.
- Add the remaining grated parmesan cheese on top and place the lid on. Cook the shells in the sauce for about 10 minutes until fully cooked and the parmesan has melted. You can also place the skillet in the oven and bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.
What goes with Stuffed Shells?
Please look for my Savory Party Bread Recipe or Italian Bread Recipe for the easiest homemade bread recipes. If you are serving this meal to someone who is not a vegetarian, check out my Olive Garden Chicken Marsala recipe.
It’s to die for. Another amazing recipe is “Melt In Your Mouth Chicken”, which is super quick to make. For dessert, I would go for an Easy Apple Pie Filling Coffee Cake or No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars.
Making Stuffed Shells in Advance:
If you want to get a head start on tomorrow’s dinner I would prepare the filling and the sauce for your vegetarian stuffed shells the day before, refrigerate them in airtight containers and leave the cooking and stuffing of the shells for the day you plan to serve them.
I recommend you pour the sauce into a baking dish, place the stuffed shells on top, and bake them at 350 F for about 30 mins or until everything is warmed up and the sauce is bubbling. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, and serve.
Vegetarian Stuffed Shells are not only delicious but a pretty impressive dish to serve for family and friends.
- 18 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 5 oz spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 ¼ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated and divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute the mushrooms until brown and almost all the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the chopped spinach and white wine and cook until wilted and almost all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and put this mixture into a medium-sized bowl.
- Using the same skillet, melt the butter and saute the onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Pour the marinara sauce into the skillet and add the Italian seasoning. Simmer the sauce for about 8 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, boil the pasta shells until almost cooked, but still firm (al dente). Drain and reserve. Remember not to overcook the shells or they will break when you stuff them. They will continue cooking in the sauce.
- To the bowl with the mushroom/spinach mixture, add the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, and the chopped oregano. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Mix until well combined.
- Stuff each shell with about 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons of the filling.
- Place the stuffed shells in a circular pattern on top of the sauce and into the skillet, sprinkle with the remaining ¼ shredded parmesan and place the lid on. Simmer the shells in the sauce for about 5-6 minutes or until the cheese has melted. You can also place the skillet into a preheated 350 F oven and bake them until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 670.25Total Fat: 35gCarbohydrates: 53.6ggProtein: 31g