Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells recipe is a perfect family dinner recipe. Large pasta shells are stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, garlic and spinach. Then baked with marinara sauce and additional cheese. The leftovers also make a delicious lunch! If you have any vegetarians at your dinner table this is a perfect recipe.
How to Make Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
This recipe is relatively easy, but there are a few steps, so it is not a great recipe for a busy night. It is better reserved for the weekend or a day when you have a little extra time.
Start by boiling the pasta shells in salted water until they are a firm al dente, about 7 minutes (remember they will continue to cook in the oven). Also preheat the oven to 350.
While the pasta is boiling make the ricotta and spinach filling for the shells. In a large mixing bowl combine 15oz ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 1 egg, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Squeeze all the liquid out of the thawed spinach. See the note below on getting all the liquid out of your spinach! Crumble the dried out spinach into the cheese mixture and stir, making sure the spinach is dispersed throughout the filling.
Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by pouring half of the marinara across the bottom of the pan. Now fill the shells one at time by keeping the shell open with one hand while you spoon the ricotta mixture into the shell. Divide the ricotta and spinach mixture evenly between the shells. Lay the shells into the baking dish.
Cover the filled shells with the remaining marinara. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Tips for Draining Thawed Spinach
To thaw the frozen spinach warm it through in the microwave. You will want to drain and squeeze ALL the water out of the spinach. This stuff is like a sponge! You cannot skip this step or your recipe will be a big watery mess. There are 2 great ways to drain the water out of the thawed spinach:
- Put it in a fine mesh sieve and press it against the sides until you cannot get anymore water out.
- Wrap the thawed spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring the water out of the spinach until it stops leaking out.
After you get all the water out of the spinach it will be in a big clump. You will want to break it up and sprinkle it into the cheese mixture.
Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Shells for Dinner
We love to have these stuffed shells with a caesar salad and garlic bread. That’s it. Simple & easy.
Stuffed Shells Made Ahead
You can make stuffed shells ahead for easier dinner prep. Prepare the entire dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate up to 2 days and then continue with baking instructions when you are ready to eat!
Recipe for Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Shells
Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells
- 8 oz jumbo shells about 20 shells
- 1 jar marinara 24-26 oz
- 1 egg
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese divided
- 1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese divided
- 6 oz frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained of liquid - see note below
- 1/2 t garlic powder
- 1 t dried basil
- 1 t dried oregano
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/4 t red pepper flakes more if you like it spicy
Preheat the oven to 350
- Boil the jumbo shells according to package directions for al dente (should be about 7 minutes). They will continue to cook in the oven, so don't over cook while boiling.
- While the shells cook, make the ricotta & spinach filling. In a large bowl beat 1 egg, add the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 1/2 cup parmesan, garlic powder, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Using your hands or a clean kitchen towel squeeze the liquid out of the thawed spinach, see note below. Do not skip this step or your recipe will be a watery mess. Crumble the drained spinach into the cheese mixture. Stir to combine, making sure the spinach is incorporated throughout the filling. Set aside.
- In a 9x13 pan spread half the marinara evenly over the bottom.
- Using a spoon fill the boiled and cooled pasta shells to the top with the ricotta mixture. Lay them in rows on top of the marinara in the 9x13 pan.
- Pour the remaining marinara over top of the shells. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Put the thawed spinach in a fine mesh sieve and press it against the sides until you cannot get anymore water out.
- Wrap the thawed spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring the water out of the spinach until the water stops leaking out.
Originally Posted April 2017 – Copy & Photos Updated October 2019