Spinach Stuffed Shells

Spinach Stuffed Shells

I always loved stuffed shells growing up.

We didn’t have them that often, mostly because of the steps involved in making them.  They’re easy to make, but take a bit of preparation.  But the end result of gooey cheese smothered tomato sauce makes the effort well worthwhile.

And to spice things up a bit, I like to add in some spinach these days.

My kids like spinach and will eat it with just some spices, but I like to mix it into other dishes, too, like Easy Spinach Alfredo with Chicken, just to change things up now and then.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

The basic recipe consists of a bunch of cheese mixed together, stuffed into shells, and surrounded by tomato sauce.

Nothing bad about that, right??

{I mean, except that the only Ricotta I could get at a last minute’s notice was the Wal-mart brand, but that’s beside the point.  It worked.}

In the past, I didn’t usually use Mascarpone, but the recipe on the Barilla box included it, and I wanted to try it.

I’m glad I did.

It adds a nice soft, creamy texture and slight tang that makes a subtle but noticeable difference to the normal Ricotta and Mozzarella mix.  If you can’t find it, it’s not essential, but I suggest trying it.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

After mixing all the cheese and spices together, then you’ll add in the spinach.

But the most important part of prepping the spinach is to make sure you completely drain it of water.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

Spinach tends to hold a lot of water.  The water will make your recipe wet.  Wet means the cheese will be slippery and the tomato sauce won’t stick.  Not what you want.

I’ve tried a lot of different ways to drain it, but I favor just putting the spinach in a mesh colander and pressing it with a fork until no more water drips out.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

After cooking the macaroni, lay them out for a few minutes so that they’ll be cool enough to handle.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

Fill the shells with the cheese mixture and lay them in a pan whose bottom has been generously layered with tomato sauce and spices.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

Doesn’t that look beautiful?

But you’re not done yet.  Most recipes will just put cheese on top, but I like a little extra moisture from the tomato sauce, so I put some of that on top, too.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

Now it really looks good, right?

Just wait until it’s baked…

Spinach Stuffed Shells

Oh, and since I had a few extra shells I cut them into slices and covered them with extra sauce.  This went into the fridge and served as a simple lunch the next day.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

And:  the finished product.  Warm, gooey, cheesy, delicious!

Scoop it into your plate and enjoy it by itself or with some crusty bread and a salad.

Spinach Stuffed Shells

Spinach Stuffed Shells


1 box (12 oz.) Jumbo Shell pasta (I used Barilla)
1 jar or can (15 to 28 oz.) tomato sauce
1 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
2 cups (8 oz.) mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cook the Jumbo Shells according to directions until they are al dente (about one minute less than the recommended time). Drain and set aside.

Squeeze all of the water from the thawed spinach.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mascarpone, half of the parmesan, half of the mozzarella, and the spices. Stir in the spinach.

In a 9 x 13 inch pan, generously cover the bottom with tomato sauce. Sprinkle with more spices if desired.

Fill each of the cooked shells with a scoop of the cheese filling. After you fill each shell, place it on top of the tomato sauce in the prepared pan.

Once you have filled all the shells and the pan is full, add a teaspoonful of tomato sauce to the top of each shell. Then sprinkle the remaining parmesan and mozzarella over the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

[Note: If you can’t find mascarpone cheese, you can leave it out and increase the ricotta to 3 cups.]


To print the free PDF, click here:  Spinach Stuffed Shells


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2 thoughts on “Spinach Stuffed Shells

  1. Mascarpone is such a fantastic addition to this!
    Just because I had it on hand, I added in 1/3 C Romano cheese and reduced the parm to 2/3 C. I was in cheese heaven. I didn’t know shells could taste so delish.

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