Simple Pesto Stuffed Shells
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If you’re looking for a lighter – and vegetarian – version of stuffed shells, you’ve come to the right place. Our recipe is also a change from the traditional meat stuffed and tomato topped version, perfect for warmer weather.
One question everyone asks is whether the pasta should be partially cooked before stuffing. After all, it’s getting a second cooking in the oven. Not to worry. Shells (Conchiglie) are made with durum, a hard wheat that keeps the pasta firm after boiling and throughout baking.
This recipe is very forgiving. You can use more or less of any of the ingredients. Just make sure you keep the egg to bind the filling.
- 8 ounces spinach frozen
- 8 ounces of jumbo pasta shells
- 12 ounces Ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt & pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- 3 ½ ounces basil pesto
- ¾ cup mozzarella shredded
- Defrost the spinach and press out all excess water. Place in large bowl and put aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the ricotta, nutmeg, egg and salt and pepper to taste to the bowl with the spinach. Mix well until combined.
- Drain the pasta shells and rinse with cool water.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Fill the pasta shells with the ricotta-spinach mixture and place in an oiled baking dish, filled side down.
- Once the shells are stuffed, top with the mozzarella and basil pesto that has been thinned with a little olive oil.
- Bake the shells for about 20 minutes in the oven until the cheese is melted.
- Manicotti, large tube-like pasta, can be used in place of jumbo shells. Like shell pasta, it’s meant to be stuffed and won’t become mushy from baking.
- You can make this a day ahead or keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just don’t do the final baking. From the fridge, you may need a few more minutes to bake. From the freezer, no need to defrost but allow about an hour for baking.
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