May 13, 2013

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

In this easy spinach and ricotta stuffed shells recipe, three cheeses combine with quick sauteed spinach and jumbo pasta shells for a hearty and comforting, crowd-pleasing vegetarian dinner.

spinach and ricotta stuffed shells recipe from forkknifeswoon.com

Growing up, I was one of those bizarre children who actually liked eating vegetables. For a long time, spinach was my very favorite, and I would eat big bowls of it simply steamed, or sometimes with a little sprinkling of cheese.

I loved those leafy greens. Before you envy my parents having a child content to munch on spinach, sweet potatoes, peas, tomatoes, or other fresh produce procured in our family vegetable garden, they also lived through my angst-filled adolescent years, and I’m sure they’ll remind you that it all evens out in the end.

Today we still eat a lot of spinach, and I like incorporating it into recipes for a healthy boost. In this spinach and ricotta stuffed shells recipe, we combine quick sauteed spinach with creamy ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, all tucked in to extra-large pasta shells and baked to bubbly goodness. The result is a healthy and hearty baked pasta dish that makes for a crowd-pleasing vegetarian meal.

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Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Ricotta | Fork Knife Swoon

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  • Author: Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x

Scale

Ingredients

  • 16 jumbo pasta shells (Cook a couple of extra shells to allow for a few breaking while the pasta cooks.)
  • 11/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (packed) 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 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 11/4 cups marinara sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown, about a minute or two. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt but are still bright green, about 3 to 4 minutes. The spinach should be reduced by half. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, basil and salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a shallow 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Stuff each pasta shell with a generous amount of the spinach and ricotta mixture, and place in the baking dish.
  4. Cover with the remaining sauce and bake covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top begins to brown and the sauce begins the bubble, another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with a dusting of Parmesan.

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319 Comments

  • Reply
    Tom
    October 20, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Made your recipe to the letter, AWESOME ! I did add fresh mozzarella to the top the last ten minutes, oh and some homemade meatballs on the edge, WONDERFUL.

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 30, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      So happy to hear it, thanks, Tom!!

  • Reply
    Melody
    October 17, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I’ve made this recipe several times and it is delicious! It has become a real family favorite.

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 17, 2018 at 11:22 am

      Thanks, Melody! So happy to hear that!

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    October 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I added a bit of sausage and cherry tomatoes that I had in the fridge. I couldn’t find large shells so I used small ones and it ended up making enough for 2 dishes. Ones in the oven and the others in the freezer. I can’t wait for dinner!!

    • Reply
      Laura
      October 4, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      Sounds delish! Enjoy!!

  • Reply
    Sheila Boisson
    September 12, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Love the recipe, but in order for it to be vegetarian you need to leave out the Parmesan Cheese.

    • Reply
      Laura
      September 12, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Hi Sheila! Yes, it’s true that traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano is not vegetarian, but you can find parmesan cheese made without animal rennet if you’re making it for a vegetarian crowd 🙂

    • Reply
      Jenn
      November 17, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      It would have to be vegan for no Parmesan. Vegetarians eat cheese, use milk and occasionally eat fish sometimes.
      Vegan and vegetarianism are very different things.

  • Reply
    Dave Schmid
    August 31, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Excellent, we added ground beef to the sauce and cut up a small onion finely .

    • Reply
      Laura
      September 10, 2018 at 7:16 am

      Thanks, Dave!! Sounds yummy 🙂

  • Reply
    Karen
    August 14, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was so good! I’ll definitely make it again.

    • Reply
      Laura
      September 10, 2018 at 7:16 am

      Thanks, Karen!!

  • Reply
    Estelle
    August 8, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve just made this recipie and it was delicious. I was a bit shy on the seasoning – but that’s my fault. Not much left to freeze! 😃

    • Reply
      Laura
      September 10, 2018 at 7:16 am

      Thank you, Estelle!! So glad you enjoyed the recipe 🙂

  • Reply
    Sue
    July 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    I haven’t made stuffed spinach in 20 years! I use chopped frozen spinach in mine. It is just as good advice 20 years ago and very filling too! Freezing the rest of it for another meal.

    • Reply
      Laura
      August 1, 2018 at 7:11 am

      Thanks so much, Sue!! So happy to hear it 🙂

    • Reply
      Julie
      September 6, 2018 at 10:34 am

      How much frozen spinach did you use?

      • Reply
        Laura
        September 10, 2018 at 7:20 am

        Hi Julie! An 8-10oz package should replace the fresh spinach.

  • Reply
    Katie
    July 15, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I am planning on freezing this to cook later – do I need to let it come to room temperature first? Or any recommendations for adjusting cooking time/temp?

    Can’t wait to make.

    • Reply
      Katie
      July 15, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Oops! I see all of the other responses – I’ll take a look through. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Amber Lyn
    July 6, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    I make this at least once a week, because it’s so good. Highly recommend!!

    • Reply
      Laura
      July 7, 2018 at 7:26 am

      Thanks so much, Amber!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel Fontana
    June 26, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Delicious!! I add ground Italian sausage and sauteed onions with the spinach! This is such a great meal!! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Reply
      Laura
      June 29, 2018 at 11:27 am

      I often add Italian sausage too 🙂 Thanks so much, Rachel!!

  • Reply
    Kari
    June 10, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    I don’t usually LIKE Italian style food, but the use of basil instead of oregano pursueded ne to try it. Glad I did. I had enough shells to feed 2 people for three dinners and froze another meal for later. I added in fresh chopped mushrooms with the spinach just because I had them in the fridge.
    Delish!

    • Reply
      Laura
      June 13, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Oh, I’m so happy to hear I could convert you 🙂 Thanks, Kari!!

  • Reply
    Marina
    May 21, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    Excellent recipe! easy and tasty! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Laura
      May 22, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Thank you, Marina!!

  • Reply
    Funny Lady
    May 13, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Tasty and very easy recipient to cook and is a really good meal for a weekday dinner

  • Reply
    Louise W.
    May 10, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Made recipe as directed, except I added a little more mozzarella on top rather than Parmesan. Three of us had for dinner and it was all eaten. I would have made a double batch but wanted to try the recipe first.

    • Reply
      Laura
      May 16, 2018 at 9:12 pm

      Nothing wrong with extra cheese! So happy to hear you enjoyed my stuffed shells!!

  • Reply
    Emily Nicholas
    May 8, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Wow, this recipe is a definite home run! I usually can never find recipes with enough flavor but this was delicious and even better the next day. I added 1 more tsp of garlic because we are crazy about garlic. Thank you for this recipe, a new family favorite!

    • Reply
      Laura
      May 16, 2018 at 9:16 pm

      We are garlic lovers too, can never really add too much 🙂 Thanks, Emily!! So happy to hear your family loved this one!

  • Reply
    loretta mahoney
    May 7, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    One of the few meatless meals my bf loves!! (Me too…) Tonight I made it again and as I turned to put the finished pan into the oven I spied my skillet with sauteed spinach and garlic sitting on top of the stove. OH NO!! I had forgotten to mix it in with the ricotta cheese mixture before I stuffed the shells. I squished the spinached into the sauce between the shells and baked it according to the directions. It had a more intense flavor first bite, but quickly followed by the creamy ricotta. Half the family liked it better, half did not. Love this rceipe either way

    • Reply
      Laura
      May 7, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      Oh no! So happy to hear that things still worked out! This recipe is pretty easy going, and one of our favorites, too 🙂 Thanks for following along, Loretta!!

  • Reply
    Charlotte
    May 7, 2018 at 11:12 am

    This was a total win! Already getting asked for a redo with the extra pasta I made. I used Greek basil from my garden instead, which add a warm, spicy kick to the basil flavor that’s similar to nutmeg or cloves. Used Emeril’s Vodka Sauce as the tomato sauce, which married so perfectly with the Greek basil. Side note that you’d never know from the taste that it’s skim everything – so nice & creamy! Excellent ratio of spinach to cheese.

    • Reply
      Laura
      May 7, 2018 at 9:13 pm

      So happy to hear that, Charlotte!! I am a big fan of vodka sauce, and it would be great with these stuffed shells! Also, very intrigued to try the Greek basil, usually I go for sweet Italian basil, but that sounds delish!

  • Reply
    Carola
    April 28, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Hey there from Germany! We love your recipe and cooked it a few times. My husband wished for it for tonight’s dinner – he loves it and doesn’t even miss meat in this dish! Thank you so much sharing this genious recipe!

    • Reply
      Laura
      May 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      Thank you so much, Carola!! I’m so happy to hear that! My meat-loving husband also loves these stuffed shells 😉

  • Reply
    Jillian
    April 17, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    I realized I’ve made this soooo many times but never commented on it!!! My family absolutely LOVES this recipe. It’s super simple to make, and always turns out amazing, and it works perfect for lunches the next day! Using marinara sauce was a tad too sweet for me, so we just use regular pasta sauce instead and it’s perfect! Thank you for this awesome recipe!

    • Reply
      Laura
      April 20, 2018 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you so much, Jillian! That makes me so happy to hear!! It’s always a crowd pleaser around here too 🙂

  • Reply
    Jess
    April 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    I left out the parmesan, used kale instead of spinach, and dried basil insteas of fresh. Came out very good

    • Reply
      Laura
      April 20, 2018 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you, Jess!!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Savino
    April 11, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Me and my husband loved this recipe. I used an Italian blend bag of cheese and it worked out perfect. I will absolutely keep this on hand as a go to recipe. It really didn’t take long to make so it is good for a week day meal and we will eat leftovers tomorrow night for dinner.

    • Reply
      Laura
      April 20, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      I’m so happy to hear it, thanks, Jennifer!!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    April 8, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    These were amazing!! My bf said he never had shells like these in his entire life and he’s Italian! Definitely will be making again!

    • Reply
      Laura
      April 20, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      That is such a sweet compliment! Thank you, Amanda! (and thank your boyfriend too!) 🙂

  • Reply
    Carla
    March 18, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Easy, light, and delicious!

    • Reply
      Laura
      March 28, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      Thank you, Carla!

  • Reply
    Lana
    February 11, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Hey there- I was just wondering if it would be okay to remove the egg from this recipe, and if you knew any possible substitutes for the egg in this recipe

  • Reply
    April
    February 10, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    These were full of flavor and so delicious, and also easy to make. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

  • Reply
    Tomeka Pitts
    January 17, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    I want to add Italian sausage to the Marinara. Can I make it the day before?

  • Reply
    Cynthia Taylor
    January 10, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Amazing! Made these for Christmas Eve dinner. We usually do lasagna made the same way with spinach in the ricotta however never thought to sautee the spinach in garlic first. That was a nice Plus! Instead of marinara I made my regular lasagna sauce which includes ground beef and some ground mild Italian sausage. And of course homegrown tomatoes and some very good red wine! We are lucky enough to have an Italian store that makes their own pasta noodles so having homemade shells just took this off the charts! They were definitely a hit and easier than lasagna! Will be making this time and time again so thank you for sharing this recipe!

  • Reply
    Ariane
    January 6, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Delicious!! Followed the recipe exactly except I also cooked ~1/2 lb of lean ground beef and added it to the cheese/spinach mixture. Will be making this again and again!

  • Reply
    Nicolette Dinolfo Trobaugh
    December 22, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Do you think I could make these ahead and freeze? I wonder how it would effect cooking time?

  • Reply
    Dgen
    December 21, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Can you use whole ricotta and mozzarella cheese?

    • Reply
      Laura
      December 22, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Absolutely!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Ren
    December 15, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Wondering if anyone has made this without egg and how it came out? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Anglea Mazurek
    December 15, 2017 at 4:06 am

    Made this dish for office party . It was a huge hit. Definitely one of my favorites

  • Reply
    Christian
    December 9, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Delicious!

  • Reply
    Sarah L
    December 5, 2017 at 7:52 am

    These were AMAZING! We followed the recipe exactly. We’re definitely going to be making them more often.

  • Reply
    Jamaica
    November 28, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Made and added Italian sausage to the ricotta mix…along with spinach and garlic… tasty and delicious!! Left a few plain ones for the kiddos…thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Celeste Luna
    November 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    It was super easy to make. Filling and delicious! It was a big hit with the family. Xo thank you

  • Reply
    Radhika
    November 22, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I accidentally bought frozen spinach instead of fresh. Can I use it? I was thinking of thawing and draining it, then sautéing it as per your recipe…

    • Reply
      Laura
      November 22, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Hi Radhika! You can absolutely use frozen spinach – just thaw and drain like you described and cook according to the recipe. Enjoy!!

  • Reply
    Pat Schwartze
    November 14, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Tried this tonight.. my husband had 5 shells! Our daughter made another version of these, said these were better.. thank you! Delicious

    • Reply
      Laura
      November 15, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks so much, Pat!! Sounds like my husband 😉

  • Reply
    Mura Kievman
    October 22, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Husband loved these, which he didn’t expect to do. I ended up with a creamy stuffing because I didn’t read the recipe closely enough. So I pureed all the stuffing items (because I hadn’t chopped the spinach before cooking). This is similar to a spinach lasagna I’ve been making for years in that that includes a spinach-ricotta element but has meat sauce rather than tomato sauce. I used Hazan’s tomato sauce with a little garlic added. Just fabulous. I had to substitute dried basil for the leaves, but that didn’t seem to affect the end product. DELICIOUS!

    • Reply
      Laura
      November 11, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks so much, Mura!! So happy to hear you loved these as much as we do 🙂

  • Reply
    Aly Nadine
    October 9, 2017 at 10:18 am

    These are so delicious, this is my second time making them. My family goes NUTS over them! It’s so silly that I never thought to do an egg to my eye mixture to keep I all together, and in the main cook in my house! This uses the perfect amount of cheese filling the right ratio of ingredients. Thanks for the recipe, it’s the only one I’ll ever use from now on!

    • Reply
      Aly Nadine
      October 9, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Whoops, so many typos!
      *never thought to add an egg to my cheese mixture
      *I’m the main cook

  • Reply
    Pat
    September 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Made these last night and they were fantastic. So flavourful!

  • Reply
    Joann
    September 3, 2017 at 5:11 am

    This is the best recipe for stuffed shells ever! Love that you use fresh spinach, not frozen. Thank you for sharing this delicious and healthy recipe.

  • Reply
    Jesse Anne
    August 17, 2017 at 9:46 am

    This recipe is actually amazing!!

    • Reply
      Laura
      August 29, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you so much, Jesse!!

  • Reply
    Joan Hart
    July 21, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    I made this as written and wouldn’t change a thing. It makes me so happy when I try a new recipe and it turns out even better then expected. Thanks for a simple recipe that is fresh and flavorful. I will make this dish again and again, its that good!!

  • Reply
    BOBBIE
    July 18, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Really awesome! I made some slight tweaks. I chopped up the spinach with scissors and just used the rest of my baby spinach, was probably a little less than what it called for. I also chopped up 4 big white mushrooms for heartiness and half an onion. I sautéed those and then added the garlic and spinach. I then dolloped sauce on top and didn’t smother it and then added more shredded mozzarella on top. I bought a big loaf and shredded myself. Omg so much better than pre shredded mozzarella, it has so much moisture! Overall a great recipe. Will double it next time and freeze!

  • Reply
    mary
    July 11, 2017 at 8:42 am

    where do you find the shells, can’t find them anywhere.
    Mary

    • Reply
      Laura
      July 12, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Hmmm… I can find these at most of our local grocery stores (Safeway, Target, Fred Meyer etc.) but if you can’t find them locally you can also buy them online: http://amzn.to/2uSNS8z Hope that helps!!

      • Reply
        Julia
        August 6, 2017 at 6:46 pm

        Try homegood store they bring food from all over the world
        Today I found the biggest shell you can’t imagine
        Trying this recipe tomorrow

    • Reply
      Debra Austin
      July 15, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      I got mine at Wal-Mart

  • Reply
    Kaleid
    June 25, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    I moved to a 9 by 11 dish to get all 16 in and added moz and park on top.

  • Reply
    Diane
    June 21, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Loved this recipe! I substituted chopped kale for the spinach and used bechamel instead of marinara-delicious. So delicious in fact, my husband ate almost the entire pan of shells!!

    • Reply
      Laura
      June 22, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks so much, Diane!! I’m so happy to hear you love this one – your substitutions sound amazing!

  • Reply
    Diane Sarin
    June 21, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Loved this recipe! I substituted chopped kale for the spinach and used bechamel instead of marinara-delicious. So delicious in fact, my husband ate almost the entire pan of shells!!

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