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Spinach + Basil Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I am an absolute fiend for anything with pasta and sauce…especially when there is ricotta cheese involved. This classic-style recipe for stuffed shells features a creamy ricotta stuffing with fresh baby spinach, aromatic basil, and parmesan cheese. Top with a bit of your favorite marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese for a dinner that the entire family will enjoy.

a plate of pasta shells stuffed with ricotta and spinach filling

Stuffed Shells with Spinach + Basil

I love this recipe, I really do. It is cheesy, filling, with just the right amount of sauce. Plus, there’s savory cheesy ricotta filling with spinach and basil. How can you go wrong?

BONUS: It got two thumbs up from everyone in the family.

Serve with your favorite garlic bread and a side salad for a yummy weeknight dinner.

fresh baby spinach

Ingredients Needed:

  • Jumbo pasta shells
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese – shredded or grated
  • Sour cream
  • Egg
  • Spinach – tender baby spinach is best
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried Italian seasoning
  • Marinara sauce – jarred or homemade
overhead picture of a ricotta and spinach filling in a white bowl

You can also use manicotti shells if you prefer. Any large pasta that will hold filling works wonderfully.

You can use whole milk ricotta or a low-fat version if you prefer.

I like to use baby spinach for this recipe because I like the texture. If you prefer, you can use thawed spinach from frozen. Just be sure to squeeze out all of the excess water before using it.

Why use sour cream? Using sour cream (or even Greek yogurt) adds a little bit of zip and creaminess that takes the filling from good to great.

close up picture of a cooked, jumbo pasta shell

How to Make Stuffed Shells:

  1. First, prepare the pasta shells according to package directions for AL DENTE. You want to slightly undercook the shells so they won’t be too soft after baking. Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a lightly greased 8×10 baking dish. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, and all seasonings. Combine until smooth. TASTE it and re-season to your preference. Then add the egg.
  4. Gently fold in the fresh chopped spinach and basil until well incorporated.
  5. Next, transfer the ricotta filling to a piping bag (or ziplock bag). Snip off of the end and fill each shell with the mixture.
  6. Place each shell into the baking dish on top of the marinara. Repeat until all shells have been filled.
  7. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top of the shells and top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan.
  8. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. You can remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking if desired to melt the cheese until bubbly.
  9. Serve hot.
layered stuffed pasta shells on a bed of marinara sauce

TIP: If the shells start to stick together while you are assembling this recipe, run them under hot tap water for a few seconds to loosen them back up.

To make sure each shell has enough filling I like to make sure they are all filled evenly. Then I go back and top them off with any leftover ricotta mixture.

We didn’t use a lot of marinara sauce in this recipe. I really wanted the flavor of the creamy ricotta filling to shine through with the spinach and basil. You can always use more sauce to suit your personal preference. Or, do what I do and serve more on the side.

A creamy Alfredo-style sauce would be amazing on these ricotta stuffed shells, too.

a close up picture of mozzarella cheese on top of sauce and pasta

Once the shells have been stuffed and sauced, place chunks of whole milk mozzarella. You can also use your favorite shredded brand. Provolone would also be great. I mean, we are talking about cheese. It is all good. 🙂

Sprinkle with a little parm, cover, and bake until heated and bubbly.

Spinach Basil Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Spinach + Basil Ricotta Stuffed Shells is a pasta recipe that can be doubled or even made ahead of time. I like to make two at a time. I pop one in the freezer (before the baking stage). Later, I can just thaw it out in the fridge and pop it in the oven when I’m ready for a fast and easy meal.

The ricotta filling is also an excellent filling for stuffed chicken breasts, homemade ravioli, and white pizzas.

Pasta Recipes You Might Like:

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Casserole

Alfredo Style Italian Meatballs + Pasta

This meat-free recipe is great for veggie lovers, too. If you would like meat, you an easily add it to the marinara sauce. Don’t you love a versatile recipe? Once you nail the basic steps, you’ve got a keeper recipe.

a white plate with pasta and sauce

Every bite is delicious. Tender pasta filled with a creamy, savory, cheesy filling…just the right amount of zesty marinara sauce. Definitely one of my favorite meals. Enjoy!

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a plate of pasta shells stuffed with ricotta and spinach filling
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3 from 2 votes

Spinach + Basil Ricotta Stuffed Shells

A delicious pasta dinner idea. Jumbo pasta shells are filled with a creamy, savory ricotta filling featuring fresh baby spiach and basil. Topped with marinara and melty mozzarella.
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Keyword stuffed shells
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 510kcal
Author Buy This Cook That

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese divided
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves heaping, chopped
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves chopped
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • First, prepare the pasta shells according to package directions for AL DENTE. You want to slightly undercook the shells so they won’t be too soft after baking. Drain and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a lightly greased 8×10 baking dish. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, and all seasonings. Combine until smooth. TASTE it and re-season to your preference. Then add the egg.
  • Gently fold in the fresh chopped spinach and basil until well incorporated.
  • Next, transfer the ricotta filling to a piping bag (or ziplock bag). Snip off of the end and fill each shell with the mixture.
  • Place each shell into the baking dish on top of the marinara. Repeat until all shells have been filled.
  • Spoon the remaining sauce over the top of the shells and top with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan.
  • Cover and bake for 30 minutes. You can remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking if desired to melt the cheese until bubbly.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 1132mg | Potassium: 566mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1618IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 464mg | Iron: 3mg

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