Ricotta and spinach stuffed shells (well, any stuffed shells really) is one of those dishes I always read about, that sounded exactly like something I would want to eat, but never made – simply because I had no idea where on earth you would find those jumbo pasta shells. Never seen them in any of my regular haunts, never saw them in any of the delis I went to (probably wasn’t looking hard enough), never saw anyone I knew in my actual real life cook with them.
Stuffed shells is also one of those dishes I’ve made 10 times in quick succession (once I found the damn shells) because it’s everything I love in a dish. Pasta, garlic, cheese, delicious sauce, and token veggies to give the impression you’re into health when you’re scoffing a cheesy carb dish. Plus it’s a really simple way to eat kale without crying.
It’s basically cannelloni but easier because you’re not piping/rolling so now I love it even more. And it gives me an excuse to go to Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick, which is heaven for Italian food and culture junkies (Broadsheet calls it “the Costco for Italian imported goods) which is where I found the shells and hugged them to me like a fugitive. That reminds me, I’m severely out of marinated artichokes (and ceramic donkeys), and one should never find themselves in such a compromising position.
It’s been nursing me through a cold, cold (have I mentioned the coldest in 26 years?) Melbourne winter, and now it’s going to make us so, so happy on warm summer evenings, a communal dish plonked on the outdoor table, fresh, crispy green salad alongside, and a fresh, crispy glass of white too.
This would serve about four, so feel free to adjust. I go about 5-6 shells per person, depending on accompaniments/how much I want a mealtime showdown with fussy kids.
You can also prepare everything up until the bake point in advance, and leave in the fridge until you’re ready. You could also freeze it at that point, and it makes great leftovers!Print
A garlicky cheese mix stuffed into shells, and baked on a delicious tomato sauce. Ricotta and spinach stuffed shells is such an easy weeknight dinner!
- 20–25 Large dry pasta shells
- 1 Medium bunch greens – spinach, kale, silverbeet, whatever’s going (shredded)
- 250g ricotta (just over a cup, but feel free to play around with ratios to your liking)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 cup tasty cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon dried basil or about 1/4 cup fresh
- 1 can diced tomatoes (440g)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 splash red wine
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 200C/350F.
- Bring a large pot full of salted water to a boil. Add the dry pasta shells and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Drain.
- In a small saucepan, add all the sauce ingredients and simmer on low – the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, sugar, salt, wine.
- In a large bowl, add together the greens, ricotta, garlic, tasty cheese, basil, and season with salt and pepper. Feel free to wilt the stronger greens first if you like – kale and silverbeet, for example, in a pot with a little water.
- In a large baking dish, spread out your warmed sauce ingredients (test for seasoning first!).
- Place all the shells in one layer on top of the sauce – it’s ok to crowd them in, go on! It’s a party, after all.
- Place spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture into each of the shells. If it looks a bit stingy, add a bit more ricotta to each, but you’ll be surprised how much they hold.
- Bake just until everything is hot and sauce is starting to bubble.
Keywords: spinach and ricotta pasta, stuffed pasta shells, easy stuffed pasta shells,