If you like stuffed shells (or have ever thought of trying them), then you will LOVE this Easy Cheesy Garden Harvest Stuffed Shells recipe. From the homemade spaghetti sauce to the mouthwatering herb ricotta, every part of this recipe is beaming with flavor. It’s one of those dishes that gives off such an amazing smell while baking that it brings the whole family running to the kitchen.
Use kale or spinach. Both are lovely in this easy dish.
We grow a lot of kale and spinach in our garden, especially in the early spring and late summer. I bounce back and forth between using kale and spinach in this recipe and honestly, both versions are incredible! I usually just go with whichever plant is ready to be picked. Today’s recipe features kale for this reason, but spinach stuffed shells would be fabulous too.
Short on time? Swap in your favorite store-bought sauce.
The sauce I use for this stuffed shell recipe is my Family-Style Sunday Spaghetti Sauce, which I use for most baked pasta dishes. This super-easy homemade sauce comes together in about 10 minutes, then simmers for roughly an hour. Whenever I make this sauce, I usually use half for dinner and then freeze the other half to use later. Having the sauce on standby makes these shells come together so quickly, making it the perfect easy dinner.
Easy Cheesy Herb Ricotta
Once you try this herb ricotta, you’ll want to put it in everything. Seriously. Made with a base of ricotta, parmesan, fresh basil, and chopped spinach or kale, I could eat it by the fistful. But for the sake of my stomach, I try to control myself. When I use kale for this recipe, I strip the leaves from the stem and blanch them to get them softened up for the ricotta mixture. The stems get tossed into my compost pile.
Stuffed shells is a great recipe to make ahead of time.
This is a great recipe to prepare ahead of time and then bake whenever you’re ready. It’s cheesy, saucy, aesthetically-pleasing, and delicious. What more could you ask for?
In case you're curious about the kale variety used in this dish, it's called Prizm and we source the seeds from Burpee. It's mild and tender kale that's great in salads but also sturdy enough for soups and baked dishes.
Easy Cheesy Stuffed Shells Recipe: Use Spinach or Kale!
- 1 package jumbo shells
- 1 bunch spinach or kale enough for 10 oz or about 1 full cup when cooked
- 2 teaspoons salt for pasta water
- 1 ½ cups ricotta
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil chopped if you're not using a food processor
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped if you're not using a food processor
- 1 ½ cups low moisture mozzarella cheese, grated divided
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated divided
- 2 cups prepared marinara or spaghetti sauce
For the Spinach or Kale
- If using kale, strip the leaves off the stems. Discard the stems. Flash blanch in boiling water until softened.Remove and drain. If you'll be using a food processor for the ricotta mixture, then rough chop the spinach. If you're mixing the ricotta mixture by hand, then finely chop the spinach (or kale).
Boil the pasta shells according to package directions
For the ricotta filling
- Using a food processor will lighten the ricotta mixture and make it more creamy, though it's not a necessary piece of equipment. You can easily mix everything in a medium bowl and combine it thoroughly. Combine the ricotta, garlic, egg, seasonings, ½ cup of the mozzarella, and ¼ cup of the parmesan. Mix well or blend in the processor. Scrape down the sides then add the spinach (or kale). Blend until thoroughly mixed.
- Pour some prepared pasta sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish.Fill each pasta shell using a small spoon or fill a plastic baggie with the mixture and squeeze it in. I find this method easier.
- Spoon more sauce around each shell, trying to not smother the top to allow the pretty green color to come through.
- Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella around each shell and some on top. Then the parmesan.
- Cover with foil, and bake at 350f for 30-40 minutes until bubbly. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes to crisp up some of the cheese.
- Garnish with chopped fresh basil or parsley. (optional)