Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells
with Italian house salad
We use store-bought marinara sauce in this cozy casserole-style meal so that you can focus on stuffing the shells. Don't worry if they don't look perfect - they'll still taste delicious!
Smarts: Assembling the stuffed shells takes some time but they can easily be assembled in a baking dish up to 2 days ahead and baked whenever you're ready. If baking straight from the refrigerator, they may need to bake, covered, for about 10 minutes more than the time listed.
- Pasta, jumbo shells - 16 (for stuffing)
- Parchment paper - for cooling
- Frozen chopped spinach - 8 oz , defrosted
- Parsley - 1 Tbsp , chopped
- Cheese, mozzarella - 1 cup , shredded (look for pre-shredded to save time)
- Garlic - 2 cloves , chopped
- Artichoke hearts - 6 , drained and chopped
- Cheese, ricotta - 1 cup
- Eggs - 1
- Marinara sauce, store-bought (16 oz / 454 g) - 1 jar
- Foil - for baking
- Cheese, parmesan - 1/4 cup , grated
- Tomatoes, grape or cherry - 1 cup , halved
- Lettuce, romaine - 1 heart , chopped
- Olives, black and sliced (2.25 oz / 63 g) - 1 can , drained and rinsed
- Vinegar, red wine - 1 1/2 Tbsp
- Mustard, Dijon - 1/2 tsp
- Oregano, dried - 1/4 tsp
- Oil, olive - 2 1/2 Tbsp
Cook shells - (If prepping right before cooking, get oven heating first.) Boil pasta shells according to package directions. Be sure to use a very large pot of water to prevent the shells from sticking. Season the water generously with some salt. When the shells are done cooking, drain well and then spread out on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer (this will help prevent sticking). (Can be done 1 day ahead)
Spinach - Defrost spinach. Transfer to a colander and drain well, pressing down to remove as much water as possible. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Parsley / Mozzarella cheese (if not pre-shredded) / Garlic / Artichoke hearts - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Make filling - Combine spinach, mozzarella cheese, garlic, artichoke hearts, ricotta, and egg until even. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
Fill shells - Pour marinara sauce into an 8x8 square baker (you can use any similarly-sized baking dish; this is for 4 servings, adjust if customizing). Working with one pasta shell at a time, spoon in filling. Nestle the filled shells, open-side facing up, in marinara sauce. When all of the shells are filled and placed in the dish, cover it tightly with foil. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
Tomatoes / Lettuce / Olives - Prep as directed and combine.
Heat oven to 400F / 204C.
Transfer stuffed shells to heated oven. Bake, covered with foil, for 25 minutes.
Remove foil and grate parmesan cheese over shells. Return shells to oven and bake, uncovered, until cheese is slightly melted, 5 to 10 minutes more.
In a large salad bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, oregano, and some salt and pepper. Add olive oil while whisking. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, and olives. Wait to toss until right before serving.
Sprinkle parsley over stuffed shells.
Serve stuffed shells with salad on the side. Enjoy!