Easy Stuffed Shells

This stuffed shells recipe is easy and a crowd pleaser! The ricotta stuffed pasta shells swimming in tomato sauce are…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This stuffed shells recipe is easy and a crowd pleaser! The ricotta stuffed pasta shells swimming in tomato sauce are a hit every time.

Stuffed Shells

Here’s a recipe that’s simple, hearty and pleases a crowd: this easy Stuffed Shells recipe! Stuff pasta shells with ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and spinach, then bake them up in a bath of garlicky tomato sauce. It makes your kitchen smell heavenly, and the first bite into one of those jumbo shells confirms it’s just as tasty as the smell. This Italian classic recipe is a favorite of ours: here’s how to bake up this easy dinner idea. (Even our spinach-averse kiddo was a fan!)

Ingredients in this stuffed shells recipe

You can make stuffed pasta shells with just about any type of filling. Here we’ve opted for a spinach ricotta stuffing, which is both classic and vegetarian. But don’t worry: meat lovers won’t miss the meat at all! Our friends and family can attest that this one is a winner. Here’s what you’ll need for this stuffed shells recipe:

  • Jumbo pasta shells
  • Fire roasted crushed tomatoes (or substitute purchased marinara sauce)
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Dried oregano and salt
  • Frozen spinach
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • Lemon zest
  • Egg
  • Parsley, for garnish
Stuffed Shells

Ingredient notes for stuffed shells

As with any Italian dish, this stuffed shells recipe depends on the quality of ingredients for a great result. Above all, we suggest making your own tomato sauce with fire roasted tomatoes. While you can use purchased marinara, a homemade tomato sauce heightens the flavors! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use fire roasted tomatoes in the tomato sauce. Fire roasted tomatoes make the best flavor: they taste sweet and smoky right out of the can. If you can’t find them, substitute best quality tomatoes and add 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika.
  • If you choose to use purchased marinara, add the garlic and oregano in the recipe. This helps to infuse homemade flavor into the purchased sauce.
  • Whole milk mozzarella cheese makes a difference. This type of cheese melts much better than part skim and has a richer flavor (try it: you’ll notice a difference!). It also melts better when reheating.
Stuffed shells

Working with frozen spinach

Frozen spinach is the best ingredient to use in these stuffed shells: not fresh spinach! Of course if you like, you can cook down 10 ounces of fresh spinach until it is wilted very small. But frozen spinach really does have an advantage: it has just the right texture for using in filled pastas once it’s defrosted. Here are a few tips on using frozen spinach:

  • Defrost under warm running water or in the microwave. If you’re using warm water, each brand of spinach takes a different amount of time to thaw. Some brands thaw in a few minutes, others take a while of breaking apart the frozen chunks. The microwave can be quicker and easier.
  • Important: squeeze out all extra moisture with your fingers. If you’d like, you can place the spinach in a paper towel to do this. Or, just squeeze out the moisture over the sink before using it. It should feel very dry and crumbly before using it.

Leftover storage and make ahead tips

This stuffed shells recipe takes about 1 hour to make, which doesn’t always work for weeknights. We like to make this one for dinner parties or on weekends, but you can also meal prep some of the components. This recipe also freezes well, which makes it great for a quick leftover dinner. Here are a few ideas for make ahead and storage:

  • Cook the pasta shells and make the tomato sauce in advance. This saves about 20 minutes off the timing of the recipe. Refrigerate both until ready to fill.
  • Leftovers store refrigerated for up to 3 days. You can make the entire dish in advance and refrigerate if you like. Leftovers tastes great after re-warming in a 375 degree oven. Using whole milk mozzarella cheese is nice because it re-melts nicely when left over.
  • Freeze leftovers in a sealed container for up to 3 months. Place on the counter or in the refrigerator to thaw, or you can place it right into a 375 degree oven and reheat until warmed through and the cheese is melted.
Stuffed shells recipe

What to serve with stuffed shells

How to make these stuffed shells into a meal? Use the 30 minute bake time to prepare some simple side dishes. We love it with a crunchy salad or quick sauteed vegetables. Here are a few ideas:

More Italian pasta recipes

Love pasta dishes? Here are a few more classic Italian pasta recipes you’ll love:

This stuffed shells recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Stuffed shells

Easy Stuffed Shells


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6

Description

This stuffed shells recipe is easy and a crowd pleaser! The ricotta stuffed pasta shells swimming in tomato sauce are a hit every time.


Ingredients

  • 24 jumbo pasta shells (6.5 ounces)
  • 28 ounces fire roasted crushed tomatoes*
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • Chopped parsley or basil, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Boil the shells until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain them and return them to the pot. Stir in a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  3. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce: In a medium bowl, mix the fire roasted tomatoes, grated garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well until all the olive oil is incorporated.
  4. Make the filling: Thaw the spinach following the package instructions, then squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands (it should feel dry and crumbly before using it). Mix it with the other filling ingredients: the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, lemon zest, egg, 1 teaspoon oregano and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt.
  5. Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Take the shells one at a time and stuff them with the cheese mixture. Top with more tomato sauce and then mozzarella cheese (we spread them in lines over the top of each row of shells, so you can still see the shell shapes).
  6. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more until the cheese is melted. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil and serve. Leftovers last refrigerated for 4 days; reheat in a 375°F oven until warmed through. You can also freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

Notes

*If desired, you can use purchased marinara sauce instead of making your own. If so, still add the 1 clove grated garlic and 1 teaspoon dried oregano to enhance the flavor.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Stuffed shells, stuffed shells recipe, stuffed shells recipe, stuffed pasta shells

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

let’s ketchup!

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Let’s Ketchup!

And I promise I will not use the phrase “in these uncertain times” because if I hear that phrase one more time I’m going to pull my hair out. Which might actually not be that bad because a lot of it is going grey and it is in desperate need of a color. But, like, it’s a given that we are all losing our minds (?) so I’m doing something that I used to do when I’d lose my mind back in college and ketchup to you in the form of a… HAPPY LIST!

1. It’s gonna snow tomorrow! And it was the fastest sugar beet harvest in recent history so Nick is currently tucking the fields in for their long winter nap and then after that, it’s all Hallmark Christmas movies, all the time. And maybe some road trips, depending on how long Bernie will sit in her car seat and play with stickers and watch Elmo.

2. Omg, Bernie loves ELMO. And stickers and painting and playing with Play-doh and pouring vinegar into baking soda and eating smiley face pizza and crunching through piles of leaves outside, all of the typical toddler things that I can still remember loving when I was a kid. So each day with her allows me to relive awesome kid stuff. She’s also learning so many words. New words every day. And the pronunciations are next level. For example: she says “shirt” without the “r” sound, “walk” with a German “w” sound so it sounds exactly like the F word, and “clock” minus the “l” sound. Honestly thank goodness we are social distancing during this time of language development.

3. I’m working on my next cookbook! It is called Home Is Where The Eggs Are and it features all of the food that I make for our little family on a regular basis. No big celebrations or parties or deep fryers required, just really tasty cozy stuff, a lot of which you can make with a toddler in your arms. So far writing it has been a dream, it’s one of the great things that is keeping me from going completely insane these days. I love the subject of feeding my family food. It’s probably my favorite subject of all other than Bernie.

4. I’ve been consuming a lot of media (just like you probably?) and here are some of my recent favorite books/music/shows/podcasts:

-American Royals and Majesty: it’s basically if Gossip Girl took place in a world where America was a monarchy.

-China Rich Girlfriend: the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians. I never read the first book, just watched the movie over and over. I can’t wait to read the third book now.

-Very Amusing: a podcast all about Disney!

-Unorthodox: I know, I won’t shut up about this podcast, but their most recent one with Mayim Bialik was extra great.

-Somebody Feed Phil: I am late to this game but Phil’s happiness and energy is like a good espresso shot for the soul.

-Emily in Paris: freaking duhhhh

-Invention: This is an album from my old college friend Michael Thurber and Tessa Lark and it is for when I need something autumnal and cozy but can’t handle the strong emotions that Sufjan pulls out of me.

5. I bought yogurt dip n dots yesterday

6. We’ve been eating a lot of soup

Ok, well, I think that mostly covers it. No real adventures to report back on, other than going through the Starbucks drive-through. Oh! We did go hiking at Turtle River State Park and that was beautiful and delightful. But yeah that’s it.

What’s new with you??

Staying Home: Episode 3! by The Pioneer Woman

Thank you all for checking out my new, dramatic (not really) miniseries on Food Network, and for sharing your feedback with me! The kids and I are still filming away and having fun, and Staying Home: Episode 3 airs this Saturday morning. (That’s tomorrow, if you’re reading this on Friday!) Here are some pics from […]

Thank you all for checking out my new, dramatic (not really) miniseries on Food Network, and for sharing your feedback with me! The kids and I are still filming away and having fun, and Staying Home: Episode 3 airs this Saturday morning. (That’s tomorrow, if you’re reading this on Friday!)

Here are some pics from tomorrow’s show.

 
Paige has been doing a great job! She’s very efficient and keeps us all on track so we don’t film until midnight. I try to embarrass her by being strange on camera.

I succeed.

 
My nephew Stu (that’s my brother Doug’s son) helped with this show again, and he’s a fun guy (not to be confused with fungi—Stu doesn’t like mushrooms) to have around.

 
So committed to your craft, Stu!

 
Alex (and Mauricio, not pictured because he took all the pictures!) were along for the ride. We had a blast! I wish we weren’t in our current circumstances, but one bright spot is that we’ve all been able to spend more time together.

 
These shows are unscripted, largely unplanned apart from the recipes, and it’s kind of fun just to roll the cameras, cook, and hope it all works. Sometimes it doesn’t!

 
You’ll see this on tomorrow’s show: Stu took this photo right before hot water sloshed out of the pasta pot, and right before my pepper grinder fell apart as I was using it…and well, at least I can say I tried. I may have accidentally said a colorful word, but I’m not sure if that will make it on the show or not. If it does…sorry, Mom. ?

Staying Home: Episode 3 airs on Food Network Saturday morning at 10 am Eastern/9 Central!

Hope you enjoy, and I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe!

Lots of love,
Ree Ree

“Staying Home” Episode 2! by The Pioneer Woman

After a week with a regular episode (it was filmed back in January), tomorrow we’re going back to my self-shot “Staying Home” series on Food Network! If you caught my first one, you know the drill: Because my regular crew is in England and isn’t able to travel to Oklahoma right now, my kids and […]

After a week with a regular episode (it was filmed back in January), tomorrow we’re going back to my self-shot “Staying Home” series on Food Network! If you caught my first one, you know the drill: Because my regular crew is in England and isn’t able to travel to Oklahoma right now, my kids and I have been shooting shows ourselves. Saturday’s episode will be the second. We filmed it…like ten days ago! Quick turnaround, man.

It’ll be on Food Network Saturday morning (that’s tomorrow) at 10am/9c!

 
For this episode, my brave crew consisted of Alex, Paige, my nephew Stuart, and Alex’s friend Mauricio. We have all been holing up together for the past six weeks, and while they all have their various remote work and school responsibilities, they have been glad to help me with this crazy-fun project, which has allowed me to continue with somewhat of a routine that forces me to shower, put on makeup, and brush my hair. Without this, the spiral downward would have been steep and swift.

 
 
In this episode, I’m transforming canned soup, making a homemade taco that will rock your world, and making a fancy dessert with the most un-fancy ingredients you’ve ever seen. And the kids are behind the wheel!

 
 
I mean…behind the camera.

 
 
It’s amazing what can be done with an iPhone and a hand-held gimbal these days. Our great-grandparents would be astounded!

Also, I catch a spoon on fire in this episode. You can’t make this stuff up. My great-grandmother would shake her head.

 
 
I know I won’t have these turkeys at home forever, and I know (I should say hope) that things will get back to normal soon. But for now, for this moment, I am cherishing this crazy, unplanned time with my family and enjoying seeing how much they have all grown up.

 
 
This photo will make much more sense when you see the episode. ?

I hope you’re all doing well! I hope you’re safe and are getting through the isolation okay. May things get better very soon!

 
 
Here’s a photo of Ladd burning grass around the Lodge last week. I’m glad he knows what he’s doing.

 
 
And here’s a photo of Fred to make you smile.

The dogs are loving all the family being home!

Lots and lots of love,
Reester

Staying Home by The Pioneer Woman

Hi, friends. Gosh…it’s been awhile! And so much has happened. I hope you are all okay, I hope your loved ones are safe and well, and I hope you’re weathering this storm with your family. What an unprecedented time.   Here in our world, we’ve had adjustments like everyone has. We closed the Merc in […]

Hi, friends. Gosh…it’s been awhile! And so much has happened. I hope you are all okay, I hope your loved ones are safe and well, and I hope you’re weathering this storm with your family. What an unprecedented time.

 
Here in our world, we’ve had adjustments like everyone has. We closed the Merc in mid-March, which was of course a hard decision–but obviously the right thing to do. We hope to be able to reopen soon, just like so many business owners do. It’s hard to see the Merc so quiet, but it’s just resting…and will be ready when things get started again.

 
Paige’s college closed through the end of the semester, so she’s been home doing classes remotely. What an adjustment for her, too! She was staying up late, hanging with friends, studying through the night for morning tests…and now she’s had to adjust her daily routine. Fortunately, Alex is home, too—she is still working, but able to do it remotely. So the Drummond sisters have each other.

Bryce and Todd’s school is out for the semester, too, and they started distance learning this week. Sports has been the biggest adjustment; track is canceled, and their daily workouts (for longterm football training) have to be done on their own time. Bryce’s college football recruiting (just like so many high school athletes!) has had to take a different shape since in-person visits aren’t permitted through May 31. So many kids with plans and hopes and dreams are facing a new reality right now. I’ve been watching piano recitals and Zoom theater performances on Twitter in order to support kids out there who’ve been working hard toward their goals for so long. I hope they keep their chins up! They will all come out of this stronger. (On that note, here is Bryce’s football highlight reel if you’d like to get a football hit! Ha.)

Ladd is the one member of our family who hasn’t seen a drastic shift in his daily life, since his daily life involves feeding cattle, spring burning, and other ranch-centric activities. Since the boys are around the house more, they’re able to help him more, which is nice for him. The markets are crazy and uncertain, but a rancher still has to get out of bed and take care of the animals.

As for me, I hate what our world is going through. I am grieved by the suffering, the illness, the loss of so many. I hurt for the health care workers who are exhausted and overworked, and in fear for their health. Now, as a GenX-er, I was trained for staying home and haven’t been bothered by the monotony of laying low every day. (If only I could find reruns of Gilligan’s Island somewhere on TV.) But for the sake of so many, I hope this gets better soon, and gets better quickly.

 
The kids are here more, I’ve added Alex and Paige to the mix, so cooking and making sure the house doesn’t fall to pieces has entered another dimension. On the business front, I am having regular giveaways here on my website and staying in touch with my magazine team, my Walmart product friends, and other folks I work with. It’s amazing how much can be done remotely.

Regarding my cooking show, my TV crew is from London, so we obviously had to cancel our April shoot…and it’s hard to know when they will be able to come back. I miss them! But after talking to Food Network, I decided to try a self-shot episode of The Pioneer Woman…with my kids behind the camera. We shot it last week, then I worked with my London crew on editing all the footage into a real show, and I have to say that it was such a fun experience given the circumstances! It will air this Saturday morning on Food Network (10 am Eastern, 9 am Central), and I share recipes that I’ve been making that are uncomplicated, simple, and yummy. I hope you enjoy seeing the behind the scenes weirdness of my kids and me!

Details: The Pioneer Woman: Staying Home – Saturday, April 11 – 9:00 am Central/10:00 am Eastern

 
Be sure to check the giveaways page if you need your day brightened! ? (There will be a new giveaway to enter later today!)

I love you guys. Take care, stay safe, and hug your families. The kids and I will be shooting more recipes this weekend, and I’ll post photos next week!

Love,
P-Widdle Diddle

Chili Baked Potatoes

This easy chili baked potato recipe works for weeknights or family dinners for a crowd! This trick lets you cook the potatoes in half the time. What’s for dinner? Yes, it’s a struggle for all of us! Alex and I have found it’s especial…

This easy chili baked potato recipe works for weeknights or family dinners for a crowd! This trick lets you cook the potatoes in half the time. What’s for dinner? Yes, it’s a struggle for all of us! Alex and I have found it’s especially difficult when feeding a crowd. But here’s a solution that’s a perfect dinner for a crowd: chili baked potatoes! Bake up some potatoes, top them with chili and all the fixin’s, and it’s an easy dinner everyone can enjoy. Chili is a hearty match for fluffy potatoes, and really: who doesn’t love a baked potato bar with all those fun toppings? This recipe is gluten-free and vegan, so it fits a variety of diets around the table. Here’s how we make them: with our trick for baking the potatoes quickly! How to make chili baked potatoes Chili baked potatoes is a truly easy concept: make chili, bake potatoes, serve! It’s a great option for entertaining, like a big family dinner. Alex and I served this to a group of 12 people for a dinner party, and it went over very well! Everyone loved the toppings, and it made our pot of chili feed more people! Here […]

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Happy it’s February by The Pioneer Woman

Is it just me, or did it feel as if January lasted 519 days? Wait, I know it’s not just me. On social media, at church, everywhere I’ve come in contact with other humans, I kept hearing the same sentiment: Please let January be over! Here on the ranch, it was a cold, wet, muddy […]

Is it just me, or did it feel as if January lasted 519 days?

Wait, I know it’s not just me. On social media, at church, everywhere I’ve come in contact with other humans, I kept hearing the same sentiment: Please let January be over! Here on the ranch, it was a cold, wet, muddy January, and our cars became almost undrivable because of the mud that was up in the tires. The dogs and I were developing relationship issues because we were cooped up together for so long, and I started to empathize with sun-starved residents of Seattle. I’m so glad February is here!

Even though it’s raining this morning. Ha.

I’ve missed you guys! I’ve mostly been checking in with the world via social media – Instagram and Facebook – because things have been so busy with the boys, family in general, the dogs (and our relationship issues), filming my show, and the other things that keep making their way onto my to-do list. I have a surprise relating to my website that’s coming soon, though–I will let you know when I get closer to relaunching! I’m excited about it, because it’s going to make it easier for me to check in with you here, which was my very first online home and will always be important to me.

Here’s a speed round of what’s happening on the ranch!

The boys are wrestling.

The resulting laundry is shocking. Just shocking.

Bryce is starting to think about his football/college plans.

I wore my hair straight for three weeks, then started curling it again because I will always be a child of the 80’s.

My mom is moving back to Oklahoma!

I’m gearing up for an amazing spring at The Mercantile, P-Town, Charlie’s, and beyond. I love our small town. Come see me!

I’ll be opening a new store in Pawhuska this spring. So excited.

I’ve been trying to get on the rowing machine and failing half the time. (Succeeding half the time–I’ll look at it that way!)

I started listening to audio books instead of podcasts. White collar crime seems to be where I’m settling? I’m weird.

I’m writing a book of weird and wacky family stories that will be out this fall. I can’t think of a title! More on this later.

I hope you’re all having a great February (so far—it’s only the 4th!).

Lots of love,
Pioneer Woman

A Good Thanksgiving by The Pioneer Woman

We had a good Thanksgiving. It was Ladd, me, our four kids, and two extras…and I can’t remember the last time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for eight people (well, and six dogs, obviously.) It was so relaxing and so enjoyable, and while I will always prefer to have the larger, whole fam damily together on […]

We had a good Thanksgiving. It was Ladd, me, our four kids, and two extras…and I can’t remember the last time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for eight people (well, and six dogs, obviously.) It was so relaxing and so enjoyable, and while I will always prefer to have the larger, whole fam damily together on Thanksgiving, it was nice to breathe and chill a bit. The only problem is, it was so relaxing that I was pretty much ready to serve the meal an hour before we had planned to serve the meal, and we were still waiting on our eighth guest to arrive. But I was so chill that I didn’t care! I was so chill, I took a nap while I was stirring gravy! I was so chill, I carved the turkey while I was taking a shower!

Ew, that’s a strange visual. I didn’t really carve the turkey while I was in the shower. In fact, I really didn’t carve the turkey at all. Ladd did. I started to carve the turkey, but as soon as I made the first cut I said “Okay, I’m bored, I don’t want to do this” and I handed Ladd the knife. I do that a lot, say “Okay, I’m bored, I don’t want to do this.” Poor Ladd has to ride my waves. Living with me goes something like this:

Ree: “I have a great idea!!”

Ladd: “What is it?”

Ree: “I don’t know, I forgot.”

Ladd: *no response*

Ree: “Oh, I just remembered—I have a great idea!!”

Ladd: “What is it?”

Ree: “I think I’ll carve the turkey this year!!!”

*no response*

*Ree makes the first cut*

Ree: “Okay, I’m bored, I don’t want to do this.”

*Ree hands Ladd the carving knife*

*Ladd starts to carve*

Ree: “I’m sure glad I have all the good ideas around here!”

Anyway, it really was a wonderful Thanksgiving. This fall has been a busy one, with my new cookbook of course, but mostly because of football—and all the blood, sweat, stress, hard work, and tears that came with it. (The boys worked hard at football, too!)

So now, I’m on the home stretch of my cookbook tour, and looking forward to a nice Christmas season with the four Drummond kids and the one Drummond husband and the six Drummond dogs. I’ll be cooking and baking and posting more recipes both here and on Instagram, and I might even start wrapping my Christmas presents before December 24 at 11:15 pm!

One is never too old to change.

(I think.)