These ricotta ricotta stuffed shells are not only a deliciously rustic and savory pasta dish, but fun to prepare as well. Filled to the brim with a flavorful combination of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and goat cheese, plus spinach and marinated artichokes, my stuffed shells with ricotta cheese is the ultimate comfy-cozy meal with delectable Italian flair!
Shells Stuffed to the Brim with Mouthwatering Ingredients
There are times when I enjoy just simply browsing the isles of my local market looking for interesting ingredients to inspire my recipe development and get my creative juices flowing...
There are so many tasty and unique ingredients that can be prepared in a myriad of ways, and getting a visual look at what's available truly gets my gears turning and my imagination flowing as I begin thinking of all the delicious meal options available to us all to enjoy at home!
For instance, the pasta isle alone is filled with all sorts of pretty pasta shapes just begging to be partnered with a delicious homemade sauce and flavorful, earthy ingredients, and “conchiglioni” or jumbo pasta shells are a perfect example of this.
When it comes to a ricotta stuffed shells, the possibilities are endless, as they can be filled with all sorts of meats, cheeses, herbs, various flavor profiles, before being lightly dressed in a tasty sauce and baked.
And because I happen to really love the earthy flavors of marinated artichoke hearts combined with spinach and fresh herbs, plus a a handful of cheeses such as ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, and goat cheese, I've decided to use these mouthwatering ingredients to inspire this rustically delicious ricotta stuffed shells recipe.
Easy and fun to fill, drizzle with marinara sauce, and bake until hot and gooey, these stuffed pasta shells with spinach and artichoke may just be my new favorite vegetarian pasta recipe to whip up when some comfort food with Italian flair is what we're hungry for!
Making My Stuffed Shells with Ricotta Cheese
Part of the fun of this delicious ricotta stuffed shells recipe is preparing the simple filling and spooning the mixture generously into each jumbo shell or “conchiglioni”, which means “shell” or “sea shell” in Italian.
I love to use a combo of four flavorful cheeses for my Italian stuffed shells, including mild ricotta and mozzarella, some grated parmesan, plus some tangy-salty and slightly pungent goat cheese as well.
To these cheeses I add some chopped marinated artichoke hearts and quickly-sauteed baby spinach and onions, plus some dried and fresh herbs for earthiness, along with a good amount of garlic.
Then, all that's left is to stuff each pasta shell nice and full, cover the bottom of a baking dish with marinara sauce (I use my homemade marinara recipe), nestle the filled shells into the dish, and drizzle with a touch of additional sauce and mozzarella before baking.
Here's a glance at my recipe for stuffed shells with ricotta cheese: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I cook my jumbo pasta shells (or conchiglioni) until al dente, as directed by the package instructions. I drain, toss with a bit of oil to prevent them sticking, and keep warm.
- While the jumbo shells cook, I prepare my stuffed shells filling by quickly sauteing some finely minced onion and spinach, and allow those to cool for a few minutes. I add the cheeses to a bowl, then add my cooled chopped baby spinach and onions, the chopped marinated artichoke hearts, herbs and other seasonings, and mix well to combine.
- To stuff the shells and assemble the dish, I spoon some marinara sauce on the bottom of a medium size baking dish (about 3 quart); then, I carefully fill each jumbo shell cavity with with a couple of tablespoons of the filling, and place each stuffed shell into the baking dish.
- Once all shells are stuffed and in the baking dish, I spoon a little extra sauce over top and sprinkle a touch more shredded mozzarella over top, then bake for 25 minutes until melted through.
Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Artichoke
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 538 calories per serving (4 ricotta stuffed shells with sauce)
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- 24 jumbo shells (plus 6-7 extra, in case some break during cooking)
- Olive oil
- ½ onion, very finely minced (about ¾ cup worth)
- Black pepper
- 5 ounce bag baby spinach (about 5 cups), roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 16 ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled finely
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ cup shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese, divided use
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 12 ounce jar marinated artichoke quarters, chopped (about 1 ½ cup worth)
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, plus extra as garnish
- Basil, optional garnish
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- Cook your jumbo shells according to your package instructions, or until al dente. Then, drain and rinse the shells, toss with oil, and keep warm. (Add some oil to your cooking water and stir frequently to help the shells to stay separated during cooking.)
- While the shells cook, place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil; once hot, add in the finely minced onion, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute for about 2-3 minutes, just until beginning to soften.
- Add in the roughly chopped spinach leaves, the garlic, plus another pinch of salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Allow the spinach to cook for a few minutes, just until wilted and softened. Spoon onto a paper towel-lined plate, and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- To a large bowl, add the ricotta, goat cheese, parmesan, and ¾ cup of the mozzarella cheeses; next, in the Italian seasoning plus a pinch or two of salt and pepper (according to your taste).
- Add in the chopped artichokes, the cooled spinach/onion/garlic mixture, and the 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, and using a spatula, gently fold the filling ingredients together until well-combined.
- Preheat your oven to 350°, and prepare a medium-size baking dish (about 3 quart size).
- To assemble your ricotta stuffed shells, add about 2 cups of the marinara sauce to the bottom of your baking dish. To fill your shells, carefully spoon roughly 2 tablespoons worth of the filling into each, and nestle them into your baking dish nice and snuggly. Repeat until all shells are stuffed and in the baking dish.
- Dollop the remaining 1 cup of sauce over top of the ricotta stuffed shells, then sprinkle evenly over top the remaining ¾ cup of mozzarella, and bake for 25 minutes.
- Once baked, garnish the ricotta stuffed shells with a touch more chopped parsley and basil (if using), and serve hot with some of the sauce from the bottom of the pan.
Tips & Tidbits for my Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe:
- Jumbo shells, or conchiglioni: When purchasing shells for stuffing, make sure to choose the package marked “jumbo shells”, or “conchiglioni”. Those are the extra large pasta shells made especially for stuffing. When cooking, keep in mind that they do tend to stick together, so add a good drizzle of oil to your cooking water and stir the shells quite frequently (yet gently) to keep them as separated as possible. (Those that do stick together, you should be able to easily separate if you use oil in your water.)
- Four cheeses, or your favorite combo: I love the mild creaminess of ricotta cheese, the saltiness of parmesan, the meltability of whole-milk mozzarella cheese, plus the slightly tangy-pungent flavor of goat cheese in this ricotta stuffed shells recipe. However, feel free to use just the ricotta/mozzarella combination, or goat cheese and mozzarella, or only ricotta and parmesan, if you prefer.
- Marinated artichoke hearts, or frozen and thawed: For a bit of added flavor, I like to use the oil and herb-marinated artichoke hearts from a glass jar, and then drain them well, pat them dry a little bit, and chop them into small pieces. You can also use frozen and thawed artichoke hearts if you prefer, or water-packed artichoke hearts as well.
- Store-bought marinara sauce, or homemade: Whenever one of my recipes calls for marinara sauce, I always love to use my homemade recipe because it's loaded with flavor. However, if you prefer the shortcut of using store-bought, then choose one that's flavorful and of good-quality.