Stuffed shells are probably one of the easiest recipes I’ve posted yet. The most difficult part will probably be grating your own cheese with a box grater if you decide to which I highly recommend because it’s cheaper and it melts so much better than the bagged stuff. If you’ve never had a stuffed shell just think of a giant over stuffed cheese ravioli that was never sealed. The creamy rich ricotta cheese goes so well with acidic marinara sauce with a slight herby punch of dried oregano. I don’t normally put oregano in my marinara but it just felt right and I really love the stuff. Simple dishes are often the best dishes which is why this one is a winner.
To get the best flavor out of the marinara sauce you want to start it as early as possible. In a medium sized sauce pan, sauté the onion and the garlic in the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Stir often to prevent any browning. After about 10 minutes add the crushed tomatoes and oregano. Simmer the sauce until you’re ready to use it.
Next, cook the shells according to the directions on the box. Make sure you salt the water before you cook them. While the noodles are cooking you can start the spinach. Grab the bunch of spinach where the leaves meet the stems then gran firmly and twist to rip the leaves from the stems. Sauté the spinach in olive oil until it begins to wilt. We’re cooking it minimally to preserve the color. After the spinach is done cooking let it cool down then squeeze all the liquid out. Working in a few small handfuls, squeeze the spinach over a bowl to remove as much liquid as you can. Then roughly chop and set aside until you’re ready to make the ricotta mixture.
To make the ricotta stuffing mix the ricotta, half of the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, spinach, granulated garlic, and a salt to taste. Pre heat the oven to 350. When you’re ready to stuff the shells pour the marinara sauce into a 12 inch cast iron skillet then use a spoon to fill the shells, place them stuffed side up in the sauce in a circular pattern around the skillet. Repeat this step until all the shells are filled. Top the stuffed shells with the remaining mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes then serve.
- Make the marinara the day before to save time making the total dish, this will also help develop the flavor a bit more
- Broil the finished product for a minute or two if you like crispy brown cheese spots on melted cheese
6 oz Jumbo pasta shells
32 oz Ricotta
1 bunch Fresh spinach
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz Mozzarella cheese, grated (Recommend doing this yourself)
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp Granulated garlic
Salt to taste
32 oz Crushed tomatoes
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Medium onion. small dice
2 tsp Dried oregano
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Sauté the onions and garlic in the extra virgin olive oil for about 10 minutes
- Add the can of crushed tomatoes, oregano, and a pinch of salt
- Simmer until ready to use
- Boil a pot of salted water, cook shells according to package directions, drain and set aside until they’re ready to fill
- Sauté the spinach in olive oil, season with a small amount of salt. Cook just until all the spinach is wilted then remove from the heat. Once the spinach is cooled squeeze out all of the excess liquid into a bowl. Work in a few separate handfuls to ensure you squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Then roughly chop the spinach and set aside.
- Mix Ricotta, half of the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, granulated garlic, spinach, and salt to taste
- Pour the marinara sauce into a 12 inch cast iron skillet, pre heat oven to 350 degrees
- To fill the shells spoon the ricotta mixture in, slightly overfill them, place the stuffed shell open side up into the marinara sauce, repeat this step until the entire cast iron is filled with shells
- Top shells with mozzarella cheese
- Bake for 30 minutes then serve