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Serving of Baked Spinach & Ricotta Pasta Shells on a plate.
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Baked Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells

Baked Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells – perfect example of comfort food at its best! Giant pasta shells stuffed full of creamy spinach & ricotta filling with homemade tomato sauce and delicious cheese topping. Ultimate Italian feast! 
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword spinach & ricotta stuffed shells, stuffed pasta shells
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 522kcal
Author Jo Allison

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce (Feel free to use shop bought tomato sauce of your choice if you prefer)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 celery sticks roughly chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots peeled or scrubbed and roughly chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small red onions peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 broccoli stalk (optional) roughly chopped
  • 2 400g tins chopped or plum tomatoes
  • couple sprigs of basil leaves and stalks
  • 2 plump garlic cloves peeled and left whole
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pasta Shells with Spinach & Ricotta Filling

  • 250 g conchiglioni pasta (large/jumbo pasta shells) approx 32 shells (see notes)
  • 500 g fresh spinach or baby spinach or 300g frozen spinach
  • 2 250g tubs ricotta cheese
  • 60 g parmesan
  • grating of nutmeg to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 125g pack of mozzarella
  • More parmesan to grate on top before baking.
  • Fresh basil and more parmesan to serve

Instructions

Tomato Sauce

  • Heat the oil in a pan, add onion, celery, carrots and broccoli stalk (if using) and let them fry briefly (2-3 min).
  • Add whole garlic cloves, tomatoes, basil, sugar and couple of good pinches of salt.
  • Rinse out tomato tins with a bit of water (less than a quarter of a tin each) and add that too.
  • Stir well and bring to boil. Cover tightly with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for anything between half an hour to an hour (however much time you've got).
  • Keep en eye on the sauce and give it a stir from time to time. As long as the pan is tightly covered the sauce won't be reducing rapidly but nice and slow, letting flavours develop.
  • Puree the sauce to desired consistency using a stick blender, making it as smooth or leaving as chunky as you like.

Pasta Shells with Spinach & Ricotta filling

  • Pre-cook pasta shells in a large pan of salted, boiling water for 7-8 min, drain and run under cold water to stop cooking process. Separate shells to prevent them from sticking and set aside.
  • Put fresh spinach in a colander over the sink and pour 1 or 2 kettles worth of boiling water to wilt it. For frozen spinach follow instructions on the pack. Drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible. Chop finely with a knife or food processor and leave to cool.
  • Put ricotta cheese in a large bowl, add chopped spinach, grated parmesan, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Give it a good mix, taste and adjust seasoning as per your liking.

Assembly

  • Start filling pre-cooked and cooled pasta shells using generous teaspoon of spinach ricotta mixture per shell. You can use piping bag here if you find it easier.
  • Assemble your bake by spreading generous amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish and arranging your filled pasta shells on top. Follow with some more pasta sauce over the shells, mozzarella cheese and some grated parmesan.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 180°C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for approx 20-25 minutes until golden.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Nutritional information is per servings based on 6 servings, is approximate and should be treated as a guideline only. 
  • Total time above doesn't include the time required to cook tomato sauce.  
  • Feel free to cook few extra shells in case some of them break.
  • Any leftovers should be cooled and can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat well before serving.
  • This pasta is perfect for making ahead and is also freezer friendly. See above for details.

Nutrition

Serving: 0g | Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 567mg | Potassium: 1175mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 10812IU | Vitamin C: 122mg | Calcium: 565mg | Iron: 5mg